Friday afternoon, I was decompressing after a busy week by checking Facebook. Then I came across a post by Olympian Ruth Wysocki, who replied to a sad note about the death of Bill Gookin, a San Diegan famed for inventing the Gookinaid fluid-replacement drink. I jumped into action, contacting Gookin’s first wife Donna (a masters track and LDR star) and Bill’s daughter Debra. I wrote several San Diego running gurus and did a ton of Googling for my story in Times of San Diego. I didn’t finish writing, tweaking and formatting until 5 a.m. I’m proud of the result. (I didn’t belabor the point, but Bill was a stud masters runner.)
If you don’t read the whole 2,200-word opus, check out the end:
Donna Gookin visited her former husband in his nursing home in recent months, encouraging him to exercise his legs. He stayed in a wheelchair.
Despite his dementia, he sometimes had moments of lucidity, Donna said.
“When we gave him Gookinaid, he’d kind of perk up and be all right,” she said. “But then he gave me that look: ‘I won’t be able to walk and run. And no use saying it.’ After that, he just wouldn’t eat or drink.”
On Facebook, Debra Gookin said: “During his last hours, he was breathing hard and intently, (reminding) me of when he was heading toward the finish line in a hotly contested race.”
Gookin is survived by his brother, Edwin Gookin, and his children, Jo Childs and Debra Gookin of San Diego, Mark Gookin of Reno, Nevada, and Karin Didisse of McCall, Idaho.
The family is planning a Celebration of Life. For details, write RememberingBillGookin@gmail.com.
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