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95-year-old World War II vet receives home makeover

95-year-old World War II Veteran Bob Goolsby and his wife Jewell were surprised Friday morning when 60 volunteers from the city of Austin's veterans services office, the Austin Police Department's Explorers Program, Home Depot and Honor Flight Austin began home improvement projects for the couple in their north Ausitn home they've lived in since 1972.

RAPL BARRERA/THE AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN (TNS)

By NANCY FLORES | The Austin American-Statesman (Tribune News Service) | Published: August 12, 2017

The trees the Goolsbys planted at their North Austin home decades ago now tower over them. While they once climbed some of them to trim, the couple, now in their 90s, has needed help to maintain the exterior of the home they’ve lived in for about 45 years.

On Friday morning, World War II veteran Bob Goolsby, 95, and his wife, Jewell, 93, sat on their porch watching about 60 community volunteers work on exterior home improvement projects as part of a partnership between the city’s veterans service office, Home Depot, the Austin Police Department’s Explorers Program and Honor Flight Austin.

“It’s hard to believe that someone would do this for us,” the veteran said.

Bob Goolsby served as an Army medic in North Africa and Italy from 1941 to 1945. He’s among an estimated 855,070 remaining WWII veterans in the country, according to the nonprofit organization Honor Flight Austin.

The group, which flies veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit their war memorials, has invited Bob Goolsby on a September trip to recognize his military service. “It’s a privilege to have your name on that wall,” Jewell Goolsby said. “It’s great that he’ll be able to read all of those names now.”

Volunteers from the various organizations worked together to clear weeds, add mulch, trim plants and fix siding. The project also will include painting the home’s exterior.

Angelica Rodriguez, 18, who is part of the Police Department’s explorer program, said volunteering with the Goolsbys has reaffirmed her interest in pursuing a career in law enforcement and becoming a police officer, a career in which she said she can help protect and serve others in various ways.

While clearing the couple’s yard, volunteers found long-forgotten vintage Christmas ornaments buried in the earth. “Oh, how funny,” Jewell Goolsby said. “I haven’t seen those in a while.”

Home improvement projects will continue Saturday.

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