VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Centenarian Gears Up for Golden Age Games
Eleven years into the new century, the Giants were one of the best teams in the National League. Their manager considered Charlie Faust, an almost unknown pitcher, his good luck charm. Charlie only batted once (he was hit by a pitch, stole two bases, scored a run, and didn't even get credit for the bat), but the Giants won the pennant. Forevermore, Charlie Faust was known as "Victory" Faust. If you don't remember the name, the manager of the Giants was John McGraw, the year was 1911, and the Giants called New York City home.
Jack Faust (no relation to Charlie) was born in 1911. Today, both Jack and the Giants call the Bay Area home, and yesterday more than 250 family, friends, and members of the Veteran community celebrated Jack's 100th birthday. One hundred years after the Giants celebrated one of the best teams in baseball history, the Bay Area celebrated the past and future of the oldest athlete in VA with spaghetti, cake, and news that Jack will once again compete for the VAPAHCS' Golden Age Bears at VA's Golden Age Games in Honolulu in May.
Jack's list of achievements is as long as the list of those who wished him well, a list that included Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ("Happy Birthday, Shipmate!"), and Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee Veteran from Iraq and the VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. He served twice in the Navy, first in the Yangtze River Patrol (China) from 1928 until 1931, and then in the South Pacific during World War II. He and his wife Opal raised the family that surrounded him yesterday with the loving arms of three generations -- 14 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren -- as he pursued a career as a painter, some of it enduring, in fact, in radio towers across the Midwest and at the Oakland Airport. He worked hard, and when he retired he stayed active as a volunteer at the Hayward Police Department and VA and served the community as a Mason, an Elk, and a Veteran.
Jack's athletic career began in 2007 in Houston when he carried the California flag at the Golden Age Games opening ceremony and competed in bowling and checkers against Veterans in the oldest category -- 80+ -- who were as much as 16 years younger. Since then, he has won medals in croquet, shuffleboard, and air rifle at Games in Indianapolis, Des Moines, and Fresno.
Jack may have arrived at other important functions in a Model A, but the Model A that brought him to yesterday's party at the Fremont Elks Lodge seemed as shiny and new as Jack's chances in the upcoming Games and his wish for all of us to live in a more peaceful world. And his smile.