WWII Vet Still Teaching Pool Safety to Kids
As the summer sun beat down, Bob Justice took a few steps forward, then hopped into the pool Friday afternoon.
He went under water and simulated the maneuvers used to rescue a person who's drowning. He'll be renewing his two-year lifeguard certification soon.
This August will mark Justice's 15th year hosting a free children's swim camp at the Spartanburg Shrine Club pool, but it will also mark another milestone.
He's turning 90.
Justice is a U.S. Navy veteran and three-time Eagle Scout Award recipient. He's been a certified lifeguard for the majority of his life, and even at 89 years old, he's not cutting back on teaching swimming lessons and keeping children safe in water.
"It's helping kids, to see them grow. ... If a child learns to swim it means they can save their life and others," Justice said. "That's my biggest thrill and that's what keeps me going."
Justice said the swim camp is a small operation with a small budget that runs on volunteers and donations. He said the camps are geared toward children who live in mill villages nearby who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford a summer camp.
"Since it's free, most of our children who come to camps are from like Glendale and Pacolet and mill towns where they can't really afford the (YCMA) or Boy Scouts camps. They don't have to pay a thing," Bob Justice said. "We feed them lunch. We have a graduation, and everyone who comes, whether they're a swimmer or a grandparent, can see demonstrations of how you can save lives in a backyard pool."
"To the kids, it's a big deal because they will talk about it for the rest of their lives. It's a big thing in their life," added Roberta Justice, 61, Bob Justice's daughter.
Roberta Justice said she's been amazed at how active her father still is. He's been teaching swimming lessons since he returned from World War II at age 19 or 20.
"The lord says he's not finished with his work yet. ... He's in good shape," she said.
Apart from practicing his entry jumps into the pool, Bob Justice spent Friday doing some minor maintenance to the pool to prepare for the swim camp.
He cleaned out some filters while Roberta Justice vacuumed.
Bob Justice has no plans to stop operating the pool or give up his passion for teaching swimming safety. He said he's humbled to be teaching children swimming lessons and equipping them with the skills to potentially save a life.
"I'm not hero. I'm just a volunteer," he said. "I'm thankful for what the creator has helped me do."
Those with questions about the camp are asked to call Bob Justice at 864-431-9537. There is no deadline to enroll a child.
Follow Daniel J. Gross on Twitter @danieljgross ___
This article was written by Daniel J. Gross from Spartanburg Herald-Journal and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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