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Barrhead says goodbye to an institution

Dr. Charlie Godberson passes away at 91
Dr. Charles Godberson, a former captain in the reserves, makes a toast to those who served in the medical corps during the veterans' dinner in 2017 at the Barrhead Royal Canadian Legion. Godberson, who officially retired as a doctor in 2017, passed away Nov. 16 at the age of 91.

BARRHEAD – He was just a good-old country doctor. 

That is how Joyce Properzi described her old colleague Dr Charles Vernier Godberson.  

Doc Godberson, as he was known to most Barrhead residents, passed away Nov. 16 at the age of 91. 

Joyce, a receptionist and nurse at the Barrhead Clinic, worked with Godberson for nearly 20 years. 

"He was very dedicated to his patients, so much so that a lot of time, I think he put their needs ahead of his own family," she said. "He was one of the few doctors who still did house calls. I remember he would often go out all night on house calls and then come back and work all day at the clinic. I am not sure where all his energy came from." 

And she said Godberson was a talented, caring physician, what she would remember him most for, is his love of life. 

"He was so easy to get along with," she said. "He loved to laugh and play small, good-natured practical jokes on people." 

Joyce also recalled Godberson's distaste for paperwork and his love of flying (Godberson was a licensed pilot who owned his own plane). She also recalled the sound his heavy foot made on the clinic floor, making it impossible for him to sneak back into his office after a house call. 

"Moreover, he was just a dedicated country doctor that cared and went out of his way for his patients. And you don't find many of those around anymore," she said. 

Retired doctor Edward Kallal who also worked with Godberson at the Barrhead Clinic and the Barrhead Healthcare Centre, agreed with Joyce's assessment. 

"He was greatly beloved by his patients," Kallal said. "He really built a relationship with them. Sometimes, if a patient couldn't sleep, they would call him up at night, and he would talk to them until they fell asleep. He really did bend over backwards for his patients," he said. 

However, Kallal said what he remembers most about Godberson is his sense of humour. 

"He would always be pulling stunts at the hospital," he said, adding one of Godberson's favourite light-hearted activities was to put up signs in the doctor's changeroom. 

"Once he put up a sign by the men's urinal, saying flush twice, Westlock needs the water," 

Kallal also remembers how he was devoted to the community, noting that he was a Town of Barrhead councillor from 1971-1986, a long-time Rotarian, and a member of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Masonic Lodge. 

"He was especially devoted to the Rotary Club. He would never miss a meeting, or if he did, he would make it up by attending one in Westlock," he said. 

It is worth mentioning that in 2017, the Rotary Club, as part of their $100,000 donation to the Barrhead Regional Aquatics Centre, earned the right to rename the Multi-purpose room "The Charles Godberson Rotary Room". 

Betty Properzi said she will miss her long-time friend. Although Betty knew of Godberson in passing, as they were both Rotarians, she really did not have the opportunity to know him until he visited her farm one day in 2004. 

"He came out in his dad's old Chrysler with some five-gallon pails asking for some of my manure pile, black soil for his garden," she said, adding after they finished filling his buckets, she asked Godberson in for coffee. "That was that, a friendship was born." 

Betty said, they especially liked to travel, adding they went on several trips to Europe. 

The pair would also take several smaller trips, often in his plane. 

"He was just honestly a good person," she said. "My phone has been ringing off the hook, about people calling about Charlie, his pilot friend, people from the Masons, no one can believe Charlie is gone." 

Town of Barrhead mayor Dave Mckenzie is one of the people who were shocked to hear of Godberson's passing. 

"He was a Barrhead institution and one of the most civic-minded people I have ever met," he said. 

McKenzie, a former RCMP member, first met Godberson in the early 1990s when he was investigating a sudden death.  

However, as McKenzie became more ingrained in the community, he kept running into Godberson, and the pair became friends. 

"He was such an advocate for Barrhead, an outstanding ambassador and the contributions he made to the community through his interactions are endless," he said. "He lived life large, and made a tremendous impact in the community and people's lives. I am proud to have been able to call him a friend." 

How Godberson came to Barrhead 

Godberson first came to the community in 1958 shortly after his first residency at the University of Alberta, where he graduated with his medical degree. 

"I came to Barrhead because I thought this would be a good place to raise my family while I searched for another residency,” he told the Barrhead Leader in a July 2017 interview, following a stroke that forced him to retire permanently from practising medicine. 

And although that did not happen, Godberson did not have any regrets. 

Godberson retired from the Barrhead Clinic in 1989, making the occasional house or pilot physical. He officially hung up his stethoscope after 50 years in 2017. 




Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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