Retired nurse of 35 years and German native Elveria Brown Goolsby has cared for those around her as long as she can remember.
Born in 1947 in post-World War II Germany, Brown Goolsby experienced the vicissitude of life early on. Labeled as a “German Brown Baby” — a term used at the time to describe children born to Black soldiers and white mothers — Brown Goolsby spent her early childhood in an orphanage before being shipped to America for adoption by a West Virginian family at age 6.
Growing up on a farm in rural West Virginia with adoptive parents and multiple foster siblings, and attending an American school with no initial comprehension of the English language, Brown Goolsby learned quickly how to work hard and overcome adversity.
“I’m not going to say it was an easy life; it was a hard life on the farm,” she said. “I think that’s where I got my (caring nature) because growing up, I was always taking care of someone.”
In 1996, Brown Goolsby moved to Trotwood where she has lived ever since along with her husband, George. Working as a nurse at a local hospital, Brown Goolsby continued a life of caring for those around her, including her patients at work and three children at home. Years into retirement, she is seen as a beacon of light in her community, assisting nearby elderly neighbors and keeping the neighborhood clean.
Brown Goolsby, 75, said her transition from life in West Virginia to Trotwood was not always easy. “It did take me awhile to get adjusted,” she said. “Things were different, the people were different, and I didn’t have any friends or know anybody.”
Yet, after years of integrating into the area, Brown Goolsby said she began to feel more at home. With that came a feeling of pride in doing her part to advance the community bit by bit.
“You become part of the community and the community becomes part of you,” she said. “You want your community to grow and do well.”
Affectionately known as “Vera,” she was nominated as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem by neighbor and friend Gladys Turner Finney, who describes Brown Goolsby as a “compassionate angel who cares about others and her neighborhood and community.”
According to Turner Finney, she and Brown Goolsby’s friendship blossomed from tragedy after Brown Goolsby, upon being alerted by another neighbor that something may be wrong at the Turner Finney house, made a distressing discovery in the home.
“She had the unpleasant experience of finding my husband deceased in this house,” Turner Finney said. “After that, she showed a great compassion for me being here alone, especially around the holidays, which can be a triggering time for grief.”
Turner Finney said her friend’s dedication to her community knows no bounds. Brown Goolsby serves as secretary for the Northgate Neighborhood Association in Trotwood, planning events and meetings, and regularly picks up litter along Denlinger Road and at Wolfe Creek Park. Although she retired in 2016, she also continues to use her experience as a nurse to affectionately care for her neighbors, Turner Finney said.
“She uses compassion and knowledge to assist the elderly and infirm and others with managing their medications and chronic illnesses. She will grocery shop or take them grocery shopping and to medical appointments,” she said. “She’s the type of person to reach out to people, not just waiting until they reach out to her for help ... I’ve seen how she’s enhanced the lives of other people.”
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