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Potter Creek, Cove mourn selfless Corle

The Northern Bedford and Southern Cove areas lost an extraordinary member of our community last Monday with the passing of Wayne Corle.

Perhaps you knew Corle as a talented body shop owner who could repair a crashed vehicle and make it appear brand new like few others.

Or maybe you’ll long remember his ear-to-ear grin as he ribbed you or joked about something, to which you could only smile in return.

Like a stand-up comic with a well-rehearsed routine, Corle would spout off five or six jokes in a row, without missing a beat. His personality was truly infectious. I feel fortunate for the privilege of playing liar’s poker and other card games at Corle’s when he turned part of his garage into a social venue.

We referred to those gatherings as the Potter Creek Social Club, usually meeting on Thursday evenings or during weekends.

The food was great, the Old Milwaukee was cold and the hospitality was top-notch. I will miss them for sure.

Personally, I was fortunate to know Corle in another vein.

Without hesitation, he would go out of his way to help a neighbor, friend or resident, not only showing up with his tow-truck, but also to lend a helping hand whatever the situation.

Since I moved to Potter Creek in 1975, and later living in New Enterprise, I’ve lost track of the number of times Corle went out of his way to help me. He was not only a good neighbor, he was a great friend and a kind man.

Perhaps the one thing that I admire most about Corle is his service to our country.

Many may not know that he was truly a Vietnam War hero. To my knowledge, he rarely mentioned his service, nor spoke of what he endured during those times.

In fact, it was only through speaking with his wife, Shirley, and daughter, Theresa, that I became aware of the instance when he was shot down during his stint in Vietnam.

From the two of them, I discovered that he not only was wounded, but had to tread water for 24 hours while waiting to be rescued.

As a result, he was honored for his service and awarded a Purple Heart, and he was credited for saving his buddies, too.

Corle never mentioned it. Always humble, his only reference to those war days in my presence came one time when we were listening to oldies on the radio while playing cards.

We were talking about our favorite oldie song when The Beach Boys’ song, “Sloop John B,” came on the radio.

“Sorry,” Wayne said. “Take it from me, there’s no oldies song like this one.”

And as the song’s lyrics, “Let me go home … Well, I feel so broke up, I wanna go home,” filled the garage, we all instantaneously knew how Corle felt the day he was coming home from his tour. He said no more about his service, neither that day, nor any other where I was present.

Sadly, it was lymphoma cancer caused by the defoliant chemical Agent Orange, used at that time in the jungles of Vietnam, that led to the demise of this father, husband, uncle, sibling, friend and all-around good man.

Whether you knew Wayne Corle as Pops, Poopsie, Wayne or the Body Shop guy, one thing is for certain: We will all miss him terribly.

Dave Potchak resides in New Enterprise.

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