Favoring his artificial knee just a bit, a touch weak from chemotherapy, J.C. Green is still tough as a hickory branch and asks nobody for nothin’.
On Wednesday, though, the 92-year-old World War II combat veteran for the first time in his life accepted a gift.
The gift was paid for by donations from people who were outraged that somebody stole Green’s golf cart, which he used to get around his property southeast of Rock Hill. On May 24, the chain that bound the cart to Green’s carport was cut, and the cart was carted off without a trace.
The gift was a brand new golf cart that retails for $4,800 and change, painted garnet and black and with University of South Carolina Gamecock logos and nameplates reading “J.C. Green” on both sides. It has top-of-the-line leather seats, a basket in back to hold the pole beans and corn he grows himself and gives away for free.
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The golf cart came from a company in Charlotte that just plain wanted to help.
“People, they just are the best,” Green said. “I can’t thank ’em enough. They are just wonderful.”
The Herald published a story about the theft, and people in the community started to donate. Then other media followed the story, especially Keith Larson, morning show host at WBT 1110-AM in Charlotte.
Thousands of dollars came in, and Paradise Golf Cars of Charlotte not only brought a temporary replacement cart days after the theft, the company agreed to make a special cart just for Green.
Paradise workers did all the work, charging only for the cost of materials. All the special paint, the labor, was donated.
“We are just proud to help,” said Paradise general manager Jeremy Ratcliffe.
The cart was delivered Wednesday by Tim Thompson, who works for Paradise and is a combat veteran himself, having served in Iraq.
The idea that some unknown thief who would steal from a disabled World War II veteran made Thompson proud to help too.
Green spent five years in the Pacific, both before and throughout World War II. He grew up on the mill hill in Rock Hill during the Depression, when walking barefoot to school was not some story in a book but how people like him lived.
When his country needed Green, he gave five years and never asked for anything afterward.
The leftover money from donations will be sent in Green’s name to the Wounded Warrior Project, which assists combat veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I’m proud we can do that, too,” Green said.
Green and his wife, Carrie, have been married for almost 65 years. When the cart was delivered Carrie and the couple’s daughters and other family said they were amazed and awed by the generosity of people.
“From the time it ran in the paper that first morning, up until now, people have been concerned,” Carrie Green said. “We want to make sure everyone knows we appreciate it. And this golf cart, well, it is beautiful.”
J.C. then took his best girl for a spin, and she did what brides of 65 years do.
“She told me slow down!” Green chuckled.
“He took off like Blalock’s Bull,” Carrie said with a laugh. “Thought I would need a seat belt.”
The top speed for the cart is about 15 mph. Green just winked and did what husbands do when told by wives to slow down. He slowed down.
Green smiled and said that even with a thief still out there, far more important is the goodwill afterward.
“Makes you remember how good people are,” he said.
“From the time it ran in the paper that first morning, up until now, people have been concerned. We want to make sure everyone knows we appreciate it. And this golf cart, well, it is beautiful.”