Rappahannock resident Ben Goddard died Friday, June 15, after years of challenging and debilitating medical issues. In 1989 he had ‘died’ of a cardiac arrest, but was resuscitated. He went on to achieve great success as a world famous political consultant and strategist. Numerous times in recent years he was expected to pass away, but he always fought back, showing an inner strength and resilience that overwhelmed the body . . . until finally he couldn’t.
At a celebration of his life in Rappahannock County this past Sunday, his wife Louise read the following from his African diary. It is an inspiring view of how to approach living one’s life. What it does not reflect is his gentleness, decency and spirit of generosity. He was a very good man. He is missed.
— John and Beverly Sullivan, Washington
December 8, 1988
“I’ve thought — and learned a lot here in Africa.
I will be tougher now.
I will be more alert — more attentive. In better shape.
I’ve seen how little errors of judgement can be fatal:
A gazelle cuts left and dies in the jaws of a cheetah —
where a right turn would have meant freedom.
A lion’s injured leg is a death sentence.
An elephant steps here into a snare or there onto a path to a long life.
Each step — once taken — is forever.
Each task undone can be your undoing.
Each casual dismissal of duty can be someone’s death warrant.
Be a warrior, Benjamin.
Be brave, calm, clear, decisive.
Do your duty, use your mind, build your body — and you will win!
READ THIS PAGE AGAIN AND AGAIN
UNTIL THE LESSON IS FOREVER LEARNED.
On the last page of his diary —
There is so much world for me to know.
There are so many things I can do.
There is so little for me to fear.
Now I know I can have it all.
And I will.
Eight and a half months later — Labor Day weekend 1989 — Ben died of a cardiac arrest. He was resuscitated — was in a coma for three days — and when he came out he went on to achieve all his dreams.
We met 4 years later, August 1993.