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Moderation is his key to healthy life

July 27, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

Asked for the secret to living 90 years, Charles A. Gossard said his formula has always been moderation - no extremes.

"But on the other hand, I've never forbidden myself anything either," Charles said from his Hagerstown home.

Living to 90 is one thing. Enjoying that life and getting the most out of it is the real trick, he said.

"I had some great experiences at the expense of the U.S. Army," Charles said, recalling his military service during the last months of World War II.

Stationed in both India and China during part of the war years, Charles said the Army's mission in China was to fend off the Japanese who were trying to overrun that country.

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"We were keeping them at bay," Charles said. "It was a harassing activity rather than win or lose."

It was from those experiences that Charles said he learned the greatest lesson in life - to be able to appreciate all kinds of people by learning their language and their culture.

"I believe every American should spend a year abroad to get such an appreciation of other ways of life," Charles said. "I also learned tolerance."

While the 26 months he was in the Army and time he spent overseas during those tumultuous times were life-changing, Charles said he couldn't wait to get back home to his wife, Martha.

Turns out she had a surprise for him when he returned in December 1945 - their first child, Linda, had been born on Father's Day while Charles was in China.

"I knew I was going to have a baby when he left but I didn't tell him then," Martha said.

From his travels in China and India, Charles brought back art work, a tablecloth emblazoned with the Taj Mahal and precious gifts from the families he knew there.

"I enjoyed their food and their company," Charles said of his overseas friends.

Before the war, Charles had been chief accountant for the Civil Aeronautics Board in Washington, D.C. It was there he met Martha Adams at a dance studio and they were married.

After the war, Charles was senior buyer at Fair-child Aircraft in Hagers-stown. For a while he was a gentleman farmer near Funkstown.

"I concluded my working years with a six-year stint as an IRS agent," Charles said.

Now 85, Martha said she and Charles will celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary in September. They have four children.

"I love to volunteer," Charles said.

He and Martha have volunteered for Meals on Wheels, ESAL (English as a Second Language), the advisory council at Washington County Hospital and at the children's schools when they were younger.

Friends and family gathered recently to help Charles celebrate his milestone birthday.

Sister-in-law Mary Della Toffalo was there and had some kind words for Charles.

"Charles is like a book of knowledge," she said. "One just may ask and he will give an answer - many people have been blessed with wisdom Charles shared."

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