One year ago today, Harold Benjamin Goldberg, our beloved father, grandfather and great grandfather passed away Oct. 29, 2013, at his Oakdale home. A Celebration of Life and Burial at Sea were held for Harold and Dorothy Goldberg, on July 12, 2014, at the Sea Crest Oceanfront Hotel, in Pismo Beach, CA. Earlier in the morning a Burial at Sea, with military honors, was held for Harold and Dorothy on a local sailboat. Over two hundred flowers and leis from Hawaii were scattered over the ocean on their committal to the sea offshore of the Sea Crest. We were blessed with an absolutely magnificent day, perfect for wishing them “Fair Winds and Following Seas” on their next journey together. The guest’s celebration was conducted on the rooftop terrace of the Sea Crest, providing a 270 degree view of the Pacific Ocean coast. The beginning of the ceremony opened with the sound of a Hawaiian Conch shell blown three times and in three directions. A Hawaiian prayer was sent from Danny Akaka, Jr., son of the longtime U.S. senator from Hawaii and, a modern-day Kahuna. Danny previously had conducted a Hawaiian blessing ceremony at Harold’s 90th birthday celebration on the Big Island of Hawaii. Danny’s blessing was read in Hawaiian, then in English by the eldest daughter, Bee Gee Graham. Afterwards, the family and guests conducted a traditional toast to Harold and Dorothy; and, dined on delicious food catered from Hawaiian and British restaurants. Hawaiian music was played by a local artist and concluded with a local bag piper playing Harold and Dorothy’s favorite songs.
Harold was born July 22, 1917, in Los Angeles, CA. He had recently celebrated his 96th birthday with all his family in attendance. Born to Harry and Mildred Goldberg, of Russian and Hawaiian descent, Harold was orphaned in infancy. He and his sister Bernice were raised by family members in both Hawaii and California. Separated in their teens, they were reunited years later... a story that later was printed in the news by the Modesto Bee. Harold lived with uncles and aunts from both sides of his family in Hawaii, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Modesto, CA. He attended school during the day and worked odd jobs and in his relative’s business during the evening hours. At the age of 17, Harold decided it was time for a change in his life so he enlisted in the Army National Guard and served honorably from 1934 to 1939.
Following his discharge from the Army, Harold dedicated himself to his dream of being a concert violinist and received a scholarship to the University of Washington, WA, just before WWII broke out. Harold, as many of the “Greatest Generation,” left his job to join the US Navy two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. His first assignment was to “Lion One” based in Moffett Field, CA. This assignment was a huge disappointment for him, as Harold longed to go to sea. In 1942, he sailed from San Francisco aboard the USAT Matsonia to Espiritu Santo, the primary logistical supply base and headquarters for major Army and Navy units operating in the Pacific theatre. It was the second largest base to Pearl Harbor and the station for over 40,000 troops. Harold was assigned as a disbursing clerk, supporting the supply department managing pay and travel for the entire island. Harold joked about guarding millions of dollars in a Quonset hut with only a 45 caliber pistol. Santo is also famous for Lieutenant, James Michener, who began writing Tales of the South Pacific while stationed in Santo. In addition, Major “Pappy” Boyington, the creator of the famous “Black Sheep Squadron” operated from Santo; and, First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, visited Santo in her role as ambassador for the Commander and Chief. The First Lady toured all of the facilities and presented medals and honors to wounded soldiers at the hospitals.
In 1943, Harold finally got his wish and was assigned to the Cruiser, USS Boise CL-47, which supported the Mediterranean amphibious operations including the invasion of Sicily. The Boise then returned to the South Pacific Theater where she was engaged in over 18 battles, landings and invasions from 1944 – 1945. While he was a disbursing clerk during normal operations, at general quarters Harold was in the heat of the action manning one Boise’s five 6-Inch, Triple Gun Turrets. One of the highlights of Harold’s time aboard the Boise was meeting General Douglas MacArthur, who used the Boise as his flag ship on multiple occasions.
Harold reached the rank of Chief Storekeeper Disbursing Clerk (Permanent Appointment) before retiring from active service in 1946. He remained in the reserves until 1953. His decorations included: the Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic Pacific Medal, American Theatre Medal, Philippine Liberation Ribbon 2 Stars and the Victory Medal. His signature song was “Anchors Away”. He never missed an Army-Navy Football game.
After the war, Harold returned to Modesto, CA, and worked with his uncles, Jack and Morris Goldberg at the ‘Hub’, a men’s wear store. While visiting his aunt in Modesto, he was introduced to a lovely lady vacationing from England. The confirmed bachelor and the independent career woman fell in love. They were married September 20, 1947, in Lake Tahoe, CA. Harold and Dorothy shared 53 wonderful happy loving years together, always inseparable.
In spring of 1950, while on a Sunday drive to photograph their 3 month old daughter, they discovered a charming little town covered in almond blossoms. They decided to make Oakdale their home and opened three stores of their own, “Harold’s”, “Dorothy’s” and “BG’s”. They later closed “Dorothy’s” and “BG’s” to dedicate their efforts into making “Harold’s” one of the premier men’s wear and western wear stores on the west coast. They were recognized for excellent service, providing diverse high quality product lines, and carrying hard to find sizes. Customers came from many of the western U.S. states to shop in Harold’s. After 36 years, they sold Harold’s and retired in 1986 but, never slowed down. They traveled to Hawaii, Washington D.C., and Mexico numerous times. They loved their Alaska cruise where they had ‘high tea’ in British Columbia. They visited with their children and grandchildren, attending birthdays, graduations, sporting events, and dance recitals.
Harold was a humble, kind, and generous man. He was a volunteer to the Boy Scouts and received the first Oakdale Junior Chamber of Commerce “Distinguished Service Award”, in recognition of his work with underprivileged children. He was actively involved with the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Shriners) and at 23 years old was the youngest member of his Shriners’ class. On Oct 24, 1990, he was recognized for his 50 years of membership. Harold appreciated the arts and loved beautiful music. He and Dorothy were excellent dancers who greatly enjoyed their dance club events in Oakdale.
Our dear father will be greatly missed for his wonderful laugh, his sharp wit, and his great company. Football season will never be the same without his play-by-play armchair coaching.
Harold was preceded in death by his loving wife Dorothy and his precious grandson Jason Goldberg. He is survived by his children Bernice (Bee Gee) Graham, CAPT Robert Goldberg, SC, USNR-R, Russell Goldberg, and Donald Goldberg, nine grandchildren Gavin Graham, Megan Dyer, Maureen Campbell, Marissa Goldberg, Allison Conn, Vanessa Goldberg, Evan Goldberg, Andrew Goldberg and Kristen Goldberg, and three great grandchildren Ila Graham, Kai Graham and Tulah Dyer.
Dance in Heaven, Mom and Dad, forever in love.