“Just be nice to them, and they’ll be nice to you.”
Wise words for dealing with people and animals, from Wilbert “Wib” Dale, an attractive and thoughtful nonagenarian (92 years old) who Care Partners had the pleasure of honoring with a “Pinning Ceremony” for his service as a medic in the United States Army during World War II.
“Wib” (nicknamed by his father) grew up with four brothers and one sister on his family’s 250 acre cattle and hay ranch in Remer, Minnesota. Some of his favorite memories as a child were riding his horse “Mike” to school and church, and sharing an occasional “treat” with the family cats and dogs while milking the cows – directing the stream directly into their eager mouths. Just over a year after graduating from high school, his 1944 Army induction noted his civilian experience, “Fed and cared for 45 head of cattle and 50 sheep, and drove horses four abreast to plow, drag and cultivate the crops.” Wib “didn’t want to carry a gun” so chose to serve in the Medical Corps. He wasn’t told about the bombing of Hiroshima, yet found himself on a plane headed for Japan to serve as a medic at the Takeshima Rest Center in Gamagori, Japan. It was tough duty for him. He saw women and children suffering, and has painful memories from that time. “They are human beings.” Wib shared that he has some memory loss now, but lamented that he has some memories that he wish he could, but can never forget.
Wib served both Americans and Japanese while in Japan. His Army letter of appreciation for his service stated that Wib “rendered prompt and accurate diagnoses” and his “competence and quick action have not only relieved the suffering but possibly saved the lives of the individuals concerned.”
After serving his country, Wib lived in many places and served others in many different roles, including pastor, teacher, real estate broker and school principle. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree and Ph.D, but rarely told anyone about his advanced degree; “I didn’t want them to think I was going to leave because of my education.” His love for horses and other animals is carried on by his daughter Laura, who together with her husband Steve (a Vietnam Era Veteran who served on nuclear submarines) run a non-profit for rescue horses. Wib has recently moved into their home, where he is surrounded by rescue cats, dogs and horses, and also gets to spend time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. While Laura is proud of her Dad’s military service, she also talks about his other gifts, “He taught me how to do ‘spin brodies’ (donuts) in his 1966 Buick Wildcat.”
“The main thing is to stay in love with your family” says Wib with a big smile. While he was sad to have to give up driving at age 88, he is hoping to live to be 100, and attributes his longevity to his faith, being a vegetarian and his motto: “Live a long time, but don’t get old in the process.”