Joe Garber

Joe Garber

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Joe Garber, the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, was born in 1911. Influenced by his father's left-wing views, Garber joined the Communist Party and was involved in the campaign against Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists in the East End of London.

On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Garber travelled to Spain and joined the International Brigades at Albacete. He fought at Jarama where he was shot in the groin. After recovering in hospital he rejoined the frontline and was badly wounded at Brunete while defending Madrid.

Garber served in the British Army during the Second World War. After the war he worked in the cosmetic wholesale trade.

We were issued with uniforms and rifles of all descriptions. Most of the Spanish had Mausers from 1896. First I was given a Canadian Ross, a kind of elephant gun. But then the Russians sent us a whole load of bayoneted rifles.

My first battle was the bloodiest of the whole war, at Jarama, near Madrid. Oh, it was horrible. It was like a Hollywood film. We were issued with machine guns, German Maxims, water-cooled things. We had dug ourselves into this escarpment and the bastards, loads of them, came up howling. They had these Mauser grenade rifles. I had a lump in my throat but I let fly at the bastards with my machine gun and they all dropped down. I was really enthusiastic. We had come to our enemies now, not just the Spanish - they were bloody Germans. And there were a bunch of Italian Black Arrows too. I let fly and got a couple of them as well.

The battle lasted a fortnight. On the third day, over 200 of our boys lay dead out of 600. That's where I copped it. I was shot in the groin.

Petoskey's Joey Garber weathers 'dark days,' earns PGA Tour card

It was in late May, and Joey Garber had just arrived in Raleigh, N.C., for yet another golf tournament, his fourth in as many weeks.

He hadn't been playing particularly well, making just three cuts in his previous six starts, and earning barely $6,000, total, in the other three, with well-down-the-leaderboard finishes.

Before that next tournament began, Garber found himself tooling around at his buddy Ben Kohles' place. Garber was staying there for the week, commonplace for the golf grinders still searching for that big break &mdash any way to save on hotel fares, you do it.

Anyway, one day, he casually picked up one of Kohles' putters. It was a Titleist Scotty Cameron, and for whatever reason, it felt good. So Garber borrowed it for the week. Let's just say, he's still "borrowing" it.

"It felt awesome, and sometimes, it's one of those funny things you need. I kind of made everything all week," said Garber, a Petoskey native, who went on to win that week's Tour's REX Hospital Open and the $117,000 paycheck that came with it.

"He's been trying to get me to pay him for that putter for a while now."

That victory vaulted Garber up the money list on the Tour, the PGA Tour's feeder circuit. And with a few more cashes to close out the regular season, Garber finished in the top 25.

On Sunday, in suburban Portland, Ore., he was officially presented his PGA Tour card for the 2018-19 season. He will join Jackson's Brian Stuard, an Oakland alum, as the two members of the Michigan delegation on the PGA Tour.

WOW! Grateful to be headed to the PGA Tour. The amount of people I’ve thought of the last couple of days that have gotten me to where I am is incredible. You guys are the best! Thanks to the best team in golf @cobragolf @pumagolf @BOYNE_Golf @butlermelnyk @JDempsey_TPC

&mdash Joey Garber (@garberjoey) August 20, 2018

It's quite the jump for Garber, who spent one season at Michigan before transferring to Georgia. He graduated in 2014, and has since struggled to gain status on any tour. This was his first year on the Tour, in five tries at qualifying school.

Before this season, his career earnings on three major tours totaled $21,561.

"It was really hard, obviously," Garber said Tuesday morning, after walking through airport security in Chicago, on his way to Columbus, Ohio, for the start of the Tour playoffs. "There's another aspect to golf. You're always kind of on your own, there's a lot of down time, a lot of hotel rooms, a lot of flights, so there's a lot of times where you're not making any money, you're not playing good, and you're doubting what you're doing.

"I'm lucky to have a great support staff, family, friends. . Even if I wanted to get down, they wouldn't let me.

"There has definitely been some dark times, but I never thought about giving up."

'No hard feelings'

Child prodigies tend to have smooth times finding success in their career of calling, but golf can be oh so different.

Garber grew up around the game, from that day when he was 3, and his parents dropped him off at Boyne Highlands, with only a putter. He's been hooked ever since, rising quickly up the Michigan junior ranks. He was Mr. Golf for Michigan his junior and senior years at Petoskey High School, before heading to Michigan, where he played in all 14 tournaments, posting six top-20s, four top-10s and two top-fives. Garber tied for fourth at the NCAA regional, helping the Wolverines to their first-ever regional championship. His 74.08 scoring average was third-best for a freshman in program history.

But after the season, the coach that recruited him, Andrew Sapp, was leaving for the University of North Carolina, and he wanted Garber to come with him.

Garber pondered it &mdash but while doing so, he also looked at some other schools. He found Georgia, and he knew he found his new home. He transferred there after just one season, 2010-11, at Michigan.

"I just felt like, if I wanted to do this for a living, I had to give myself every opportunity to get better," Garber said. "It was seeming like Michigan wasn't really the spot for me to do that. I love the University of Michigan. I still think it's the greatest university in the world. I've got countless friends that I still keep in touch with there, I still talk to the golf coach. There are no hard feelings."

Michigan head coach Chris Whitten, an assistant under Sapp, confirmed that.

They talked earlier this week, after Garber got his PGA Tour card.

"Joey was just looking for a different environment to continue his career," Whitten said. "We still have a good relationship. I'm really happy for him and all of his success this year."

Georgia has long served as a pipeline to the PGA Tour, with such notable alums as Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Chris Kirk and Harris English, all of whom are in the FedEx Cup playoffs that start this week.

There's also the weather, which Garber admitted was a deciding factor in leaving Michigan.

"Can you get better and do the things you do do in Michigan? Yes," he said. "But it's gonna be easier on you if you're somewhere where you can play golf every day. That was definitely a big part of it, getting out of the Michigan winters."

The move worked. Garber had a decorated career at Georgia, even rising to the No. 1-ranked collegiate golfer in the country during his senior season, 2014, the same season in which he set the program's scoring record (70.69).

Shortly after graduating, he qualified for the PGA Tour's Travelers Championship just outside Hartford, Conn. And he seemed to be well on his way. But he missed the cut that week. That was his only PGA Tour start that year. He didn't have any the next year. He made four in 2016, making two cuts. And he made one last year, at The Honda Classic, where he flirted with the lead early after a first-round 67, but then ballooned in the second round and missed the cut.

In that same span, he played in six events, making one cut, and in 2015, he spent a summer in Canada on what now is the Mackenzie Tour. He played in 10 tournaments, and made four cuts and $3,161.

"You know, I had no status anywhere," said Garber, 26. "I knew it was there. I knew I needed to get some status somewhere, get me a full season, and give myself a realistic try at it. As soon as I got my status this year, I felt more comfortable. I felt like everything would fall into place.

"And, you know, it just so happened to. It's just validating what I already knew &mdash I believed in myself. Golf is all about belief and confidence."

'The perfect storm'

Last December, Garber finally qualified for Tour status, a much-bigger prize than the $6,750 (pre-tax) check that came with it.

And after missing the cut in his first two events of the season, he reeled off four consecutive made cuts &mdash including a pair of eighth-place finishes.

Then, in June, at the TPC Wakefield Plantation course in Raleigh &mdash a course that suited his eye from the moment he laid eyes on it, particularly with its wide fairways (driving accuracy has been an issue) &mdash he got his big break. Rounds of 66, 65, 69 and 66 were good enough for a one-shot victory, all but securing him even more status for next season, and on a much bigger stage.

The "borrowed" putter (which remains in his travel bag, though he doesn't always use it) helped, as did playing with good friend Michael Johnson in the final two rounds. That helped calm him down.

"It was just kind of the perfect storm," Garber said.

Garber missed the cut last week at the Portland Open, but he stuck around for a bigger prize.

After Sunday's round had ended, Dan Glod, Tour president, and David Brown, president of the Group, handed out the 25 coveted PGA Tour cards, in the order they finished on the money list. Garber was the 19th name called.

"You do pictures and you have a glass of champagne," said Garber, admitting he might not have stopped at just one.

Garber still gets back to Michigan, when he can. Usually that means one week in the summer &mdash not nearly enough, he says ("I miss it so much there's nowhere better than Northern Michigan right now") &mdash and usually for Christmas.

He's still a big Detroit sports fan, particularly of the four major pro teams.

And, yes, he still loves the University of Michigan. "Go Blue" even is on his Twitter account, which, by the way, is due for an update: PGA Tour player.

"It was pretty special," Garber, who now resides in the golf mecca that is St. Simons, Island, Ga., said of that weekend celebration. It hadn't really sunk in, probably, until yesterday (Monday). Yeah, it was super cool. I had a bunch of close buddies who also finished in the top 25.

"It was just cool to experience it with everyone unfortunately, no family, but it was nice to have a bunch of friends around.

Joseph Garber -- author of thrillers

Obituary photo of Joseph Garber. Ran on: 06-05-2005 Joseph Garber developed a love for books when he was a child frequently on the move.

Joseph Rene Garber, a career businessman who became a best-selling author of thrillers, died on May 27 of an apparent heart attack at his home in Woodside. He was 61.

Mr. Garber, born in Philadelphia in 1943, developed a love of books as a child. His father was in the Army, and the family was constantly relocating. He found refuge in libraries. Wherever the family moved, there were always books.

He attended the University of Virginia before dropping out to join the Army. Following his military service, Mr. Garber returned to college, graduating in 1968 from East Tennessee State University with a degree in philosophy. His first job out of college was working for AT&T in New York. He helped companies set up long-distance services and wrote for AT&T's in-house magazine.

He then went to work for the consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he spent a decade. He was a self-professed workaholic, spending up to 16 hours a day at the office. In his rare free time, he read and wrote. He penned short stories and articles. Some were submitted to magazines, while others were tucked in a drawer.

"Joe always wanted to be a writer," said his wife of 36 years, Janice Garber. "He wrote throughout his life, even when it wasn't his profession."

In June 1984, after fighting off a nasty and prolonged flu, Mr. Garber felt it was time for a change of pace and scenery. The Garbers left Manhattan for Woodside. Mr. Garber had become enamored of the area while visiting clients at Stanford and in Silicon Valley.

To complete his new California persona, Mr. Garber bought a Porsche. He told friends he hoped his graying hair would return to blond.

"As Joe became more and more discontent with management consulting, he did more and more writing," Janice Garber said. He worked for a consulting firm in Redwood City and was a technology columnist for Forbes Magazine. He was delighted, Janice Garber said, when he was laid off from the consulting firm.

In 1989, Mr. Garber's first book, "Rascal Money," was published. The novel was a satirical look at the mercenary business world. While it was published as fiction, the original manuscript had been nonfiction and was entitled, "In Search of Shabbiness." Mr. Garber wrote it in part in response to Tom Peters' best-seller "In Search of Excellence." After talking with agents and lawyers, Mr. Garber recast the work as fiction.

His next novel, "Vertical Run," was published in 1995. To Mr. Garber's astonishment, the book became an international best-seller.

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Gene Garber

Gene Garber parlayed a unique wind-up and delivery and an effective sinker into a 19-year career as a major-league reliever. Though he never pitched in the World Series or made an All-Star team, the righty used perseverance and an agrarian work ethic to overcome various setbacks and become one of the best among the first generation of closers.

Henry Eugene Garber was born to Henry and Martha (Rutt) Garber in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, on November 13, 1947. He was the second of four children, including older brother Herbert, younger brother Larry, and younger sister Linda. Gene’s father served as a director of a community bank and owned a dairy farm, where Gene worked for much of his early life, laying the groundwork for farming as a successful post-baseball career. Henry Garber was also an early advocate for farmland preservation, another trait that Gene would carry on throughout his life.1

The Garber family had been a fixture in Elizabethtown since the early part of the 19th century, when Gene’s great-great-great-grandfather moved his family from a neighboring township westward to a 139-acre farm that remains in the family today.2 The family’s heritage is Mennonite, a faith with deep Swiss and German roots. The family farm is located next to a Mennonite church established in 1811.

Gene attended Elizabethtown High School. Although he was not a big man, standing 5-feet-10 and weighing 175 pounds when fully grown, he starred in both basketball and baseball. He earned two varsity letters in the former and four in his primary sport. Although he played shortstop when he was not pitching, Garber had his greatest scholastic success on the mound. Facing neighboring Donegal High School, Garber recorded 27 strikeouts in a game that lasted 11 innings. Five times during his senior year, he held his opponents to one hit.3

Following his senior year at Elizabethtown High in 1965, Garber was selected by his home-state Pittsburgh Pirates in the 20th round of Major League Baseball’s inaugural June amateur draft. The 17-year-old spent most of that summer playing for Batavia in the Class-A New York-Penn League. After logging 72 innings for Batavia, Garber enrolled at Elizabethtown College, where he balanced school work and a budding baseball career for the next four years.

After spending two seasons with the Class-A Raleigh Pirates of the Carolina League, Garber’s ability to simultaneously continue his studies and hone his baseball career became easier in 1968. He earned promotion to Class-AA York of the Eastern League, located about 25 miles southwest of Elizabethtown College.

In addition to his studies and his obligations to the Pirates, Garber also continued to work on his father’s dairy farm. A typical day saw Garber rise before sunup, work on the farm until classes started at college, and then make the short trip from Elizabethtown to York. “It’s keeping me busy,” Garber understatedly said at the time, “but it’s something I want to do.”4

The heavy workload hardly affected Garber’s work on the mound. On May 8, 1968, he posted a three-hit shutout over Elmira in a 1-0 York victory. Joining on a full-time basis following the end of the spring semester, Garber continued to excel, notching a four-hit shutout on June 14 and a complete-game four-hitter on July 15 to improve his mark to 7-2 with a 1.60 ERA, second in the league to Dick Baney’s 1.58.5

Garber’s excellence at York won him promotion to AAA Columbus, where he hurled six shutout innings against Jacksonville in his team debut. He then transitioned into a bullpen role, making 22 relief appearances in which he averaged 2⅓ innings. His 5-1 slate and 3.20 ERA for the Jets nearly lifted them to an International League title, but they finished a half-game behind champion Toledo.6

Any personal disappointment in falling short of the league title was certainly countered when Pittsburgh promoted Garber to the major-league roster late in 1968. However, he didn’t get into a game.7

In 1969, Garber was again assigned to York, which helped him wrap up the final classes he needed to receive his history degree from Elizabethtown College that spring. Garber continued to baffle EL hitters. He registered 16 strikeouts in a 10-4 complete game win over Waterbury.8 He also pitched five hitless innings in a 14-inning win over that same squad in June in his final game with the AA club.9

When Pittsburgh’s Ron Davis had to serve military reserve duties for two weeks, Pittsburgh filled his roster spot by calling on the 21-year-old Garber. He started the second game of a doubleheader on June 17, 1969, against the visiting Cubs.10

Garber and his sinkerball cruised through the first three innings, facing the minimum nine batters. The fourth inning did not go as well. Don Kessinger led off with an inside-the-park home run, and Billy Williams and Willie Smith added more traditional round-trippers later in the frame. Pittsburgh scored a pair of runs in the eighth to take Garber off the hook and then won it in the ninth.

By June 25, Garber was back at Columbus, where he spent the rest of the 1969 season. Any opportunity to rejoin Pittsburgh at the conclusion of the International League season was thwarted when he was required to report to military reserve duty on September 2.

Garber began 1970 as a newly married man following his February 7 nuptials to Karen Frey they had met at Elizabethtown College.11 Just weeks later, he broke spring camp with the Pirates but jumped between the majors and Triple-A until early June. An assignment to Columbus then began a stretch of two full seasons at the highest level of the minor leagues.

In 1971, Pittsburgh’s AAA affiliate moved to Charleston, West Virginia, and Garber spent the entire season there in his preferred role as a starter.12 At that point, Garber was committed to sticking with baseball for “three more years” before giving up on a baseball career.13 Perhaps the recognition of a self-imposed career timetable paved the way for two important changes to his approach over the remainder of 1971.

Left unprotected in the 1971 Rule 5 draft, Garber made his first trip to the Dominican League, where he went 8-6.14 He was most focused on his control in winter ball.15

Earlier in 1971, he had encountered major-league star pitcher Luis Tiant in the International League, rehabbing after injuries. Tiant’s unique, twisting delivery gave Garber and his 1971 Charleston teammate Pedro Gonzalez an idea. Gonzalez encouraged Garber to try a similar style because of his ability to hide the baseball.16 Yet while Tiant’s pitches came from varied arm angles, Garber stuck with sidearm.

Now clearly the ace of the Charleston staff, Garber’s success on the field nearly equaled his frustration off it. “I don’t know what I have to do,” he bemoaned, “but one way or the other, I want to get back to the majors . . . with some club.”17

Pittsburgh only needed Garber for a single inning on June 1 as he filled in for a military absentee. Back in Charleston, Garber continued to mow down International League hitters to the tune of a 7-1 record and 1.53 ERA.18 His skipper, Red Davis, advocated for him, saying, “If any kid deserves a chance, it’s Gene. That guy is the most dedicated person I ever saw.”19

Garber finished the 1972 campaign with a 14-3 record and a league-leading 2.26 ERA, winning International League Pitcher of the Year honors. Despite his dominance at Triple-A, the Pirates left Garber unprotected in the winter Rule 5 draft.20 In October of 1972, trade rumors swirled, with indications that he was possibly on his way to Cleveland.21 Instead, Garber went to Kansas City for Jim Rooker on October 25.

Garber made his American League debut on April 11, 1973, claiming his first major-league victory in a 9-6 Royals win. Six days later, he entered a tie game with two outs in the eighth, pitched scoreless ball through the 14th, and got his second win in as many appearances on Hal McRae’s RBI single.

A start on May 31 was arguably his best ever at the top level. Kansas City won 4-1 behind Garber’s complete game, the lone blemish being a seventh-inning home run by Baltimore’s Don Baylor. He gave up five other hits, four of them singles, and struck out four without a walk. He was 5-1 with a 1.78 ERA that was third-best in the AL at the end of May.

A couple of rocky starts sent Garber back to the bullpen. He had moderate success over the rest of the year, going 9-9 with 11 saves in 16 opportunities over eight starts and 40 relief appearances. Garber made the Royals roster again in 1974, though he pitched sporadically and ineffectively, often in low-pressure situations. He was demoted to Triple-A Omaha but never pitched for them because the Philadelphia Phillies purchased his contract.

At age 26, Garber was back in the minors—with Philadelphia’s AAA club, Toledo—for the first time in two years. Yet he made the most of this setback. In his first start with Toledo, his teammates made the transition easier for him, scoring 11 times before he took the hill. His third appearance with the Mud Hens, on July 25 against Pawtucket, was a seven-hit shutout, giving him a 2-1 record with a 0.41 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 22 innings.22

The Phillies didn’t need to see any more. Toledo manager Jim Bunning called Philadelphia general manager Paul Owens, telling him simply “Garber’s ready.” They promoted him from Toledo on July 28, and Garber never suited up for a minor-league team again.23

Garber got a chance to appear in the National League postseason in 1976 but Cincinnati swept Philadelphia in three games. Garber faced only six batters in the series.

With a new three-year contract, Garber took leadership of the Philadelphia bullpen in 1977, pacing the relief corps in nearly every statistical category.24 Once a skeptic about his bullpen role, by this point in his career Garber relished it. “I get as much pleasure finishing a game as most guys do starting. It’s the constant challenge. The tough situations and the satisfaction in being able to handle them.” Catcher Tim McCarver added that Garber had “a heart as big as his body.”25

Garber was particularly impressive in the second half of the season and down the stretch. In 50 innings covering 24 games from July 21 to the end of the year, he went 4-1 with a 1.08 ERA, allowing less than one base runner per inning, and converted all 10 of his save opportunities. The Phillies won the East again and headed for the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers.

The teams split the first two games in Los Angeles, the first of which Garber won by retiring all four batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings. That made him the first Phillie to win a postseason game since Grover Cleveland Alexander won Game One of the 1915 World Series.

Game Three went into the top of the seventh with the score 3-3, and manager Danny Ozark called on Garber to keep the Dodgers at bay. Garber set down the first eight Dodgers he faced, all retired on groundouts. Philadelphia had scored twice in the eighth, and just one out stood between them and a 2-1 series lead, with Cy Young Award winner Steve Carlton waiting to capture a World Series berth in Game Four. Then, the Phillies’ fortunes took a sudden and drastic turn for the worse. “I still wake up with nightmares from that game,” said Garber 30 years later.26

After a bunt single and misplayed double coupled with an errant throw, the tying run was on third base. On a close play, Davey Lopes was called safe by umpire Bruce Froemming for an infield single, tying the game.

A wide pickoff attempt and a single later, the Phillies trailed. They failed to score in the ninth, and Carlton did not have his best stuff in Game Four. The Dodgers won 4-1 and went to the World Series.

Despite the disappointment of the moment, Garber handled it with dignity at the time and continued to do so long after his career was over. “You ask yourself why those things happened . . . that’s just the way baseball is,” he said. Garber was also magnanimous to Froemming, saying, “I saw it differently. He certainly wasn’t trying to miss it.”27

“The replays showed he got the call wrong,” Garber said. “But I defended him and defended him. I was probably grilled for two hours. [Associated Press reporter] Ralph Bernstein must have asked me about that play 10 different ways to get me to say something bad about the umpire. I defended the call, and that ended up being a positive for me.”28 Yet Garber’s unwillingness to blame Froemming never made it into Bernstein’s game story.

After winning the National League East in 1976 and 1977, the Phillies were again in contention for a third straight pennant. At the June 15, 1978, trading deadline, Owens announced that the club had traded Jay Johnstone to the Yankees for reliever Rawly Eastwick. “Pope [Owens] came in and told us that we still needed some starting pitching but the bullpen was doing a great job and no one would be traded,” said Garber. “As soon as he said that, Tug (McGraw) and I started saying which one of us would be traded.󈭱

Sure enough, the acquisition of Eastwick had Garber on the move again. He was sent to Atlanta the very next day for starting pitcher Dick Ruthven. “It was a good move for the Phils but it was tough for me to go from a first place club to a last place one,” Garber noted.30 “We’d just bought a house. I think we were, as a family, happier than we’d ever been.”31

The trade to Atlanta may have been a disappointment to Garber, but six weeks later, he was in a position to accomplish a feat that baseball fans would long remember.

Pete Rose had a 44-game hitting streak going on August 1 but was 0-for-2 with a walk when Garber came into the seventh inning of a game in which Atlanta led 8-4. With a runner on first and nobody out in the seventh, Rose hit a line drive to third baseman Bob Horner, who grabbed it and doubled Dave Collins off first base.

With Atlanta building its lead to 16-4, the only drama remaining in the evening pertained to Rose’s streak. Garber refused manager Bobby Cox’s suggestion that he leave the contest that was no longer in doubt. “I said, absolutely not,” Garber said. “I told him, I want the opportunity to end his streak.” He had told his wife before the series started that he would do so. 32

With two outs in the ninth, Rose came up. A pair of low and inside pitches ran the count to 2-and-1. “It never bothered me walking somebody,” Garber would recollect decades after the encounter, yet he “was plenty nervous” after falling behind.33 Rose fouled the next pitch back to even the count, and then he waved and missed at a changeup on the outside part of the plate. Garber jumped joyously. The longest hitting streak in National League history was over.

Rose was hardly gracious in the immediate aftermath of his defeat, complaining that Garber was treating the game like it was the seventh game of the World Series. Atlanta’s starting pitcher that night, Larry McWilliams, said “I’ve got news for Pete Rose. Garber pitches every game like it’s Game Seven of the World Series. It wasn’t just that one game.”34

Garber had his own explanation for his exuberance. “People have to remember that I had been traded from the first-place Phillies to the last-place Braves. It wasn’t very fun playing for the Braves. So that’s probably why I jumped so high when he struck out.󈭷

Garber led a last-place Braves team in saves in 1979 with 25, although he also racked up a career-high 16 losses and eight blown saves. In 1980, newly-acquired Al Hrabosky began the year as Atlanta’s closer, but he was ineffective and ceded duties to Garber and Rick Camp. By mid-July, Garber paced Atlanta with six saves, double Camp’s total, but Camp’s ERA was nearly two runs lower than Garber’s and the team made Camp their relief ace.

Garber took on an additional role in 1980. As labor tension increased between the union and the owners, Garber’s position as the Braves’ player representative gained importance. In a prophetic comment, Garber said early that year that the players “have no recourse but to strike” and they did walk out at the end of spring training, but no regular season games were lost.36

Garber broke his ankle in early May of 1981 and was out of action for three months.37 He pitched well in August and September and finished with a 4-6 record and 2.61 ERA in just 35 appearances.

In 1982, Garber had another solid season. Atlanta ended the first half with a two-game lead in the NL West, and Garber was 6-3 with 16 saves and a 1.96 ERA. His impressive first half, however, was not enough to garner a spot on the All-Star team.

Atlanta made the playoffs, but the St. Louis Cardinals swept the Braves in three games, with Garber taking the loss in the second contest. Garber finished the 1982 season with a career-high 30 saves. He finished seventh in Cy Young voting and 19th in the MVP race, the only times his name was ever marked on either ballot during his career. He also finished second place in Gold Glove voting, falling five tallies short of teammate Phil Niekro.38

The Braves rewarded Garber with a three-year extension, though in 1983 he struggled with ulnar neuritis, an inflammation of the major nerve that runs through the elbow and can cause numbness in the hand. Garber was still a popular trade target.39, Nonetheless, he stayed with Atlanta. The following year, the Braves acquired perennial All-Star closer Bruce Sutter, five years Garber’s junior and from the neighboring hometown of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania.

With Sutter on the team, Garber’s usage suffered. “I’m not pitching much and I want to pitch. I haven’t had a role here. If the opportunity is not here, then I’d like to go where there is an opportunity. I’ve still got a lot of pitching left in me.”40

Sutter got hurt late in 1985 and missed most of 1986 and all of 1987. Garber filled the void at the forefront of the Atlanta bullpen. By June 1986, he was 3-1 with eight saves and a 1.36 ERA and had teammates advocating for his first All-Star berth. Rick Mahler said of Garber’s impressive showing that “nobody’s pitching better than he is.”41 As it turned out, Dale Murphy was Atlanta’s lone representative in that year’s Midsummer Classic.

Garber had proven that he remained an effective closer in 1986, registering 24 saves in 29 opportunities with a 2.54 ERA. That was despite a sore arm that slowed him over the season’s final three weeks.42 Atlanta established a bullpen by committee in 1987, yet Garber still became baseball’s seventh reliever to reach 200 saves with a pair of scoreless innings in Cincinnati on June 11. Instead of basking in the glow of his accomplishment, Garber recognized the difficulty of his feat. “The rewards that go with playing a long time haven’t come my way. It’s been a struggle.”43

Seven weeks later, Garber was traded to Kansas City, where he recorded eight saves in as many chances. He earned a contract for the 1988 season while erstwhile closer Dan Quisenberry requested a trade.44

Four losses over 14 appearances in six weeks of 1988 spelled the end for the 40-year-old Garber. On July 4, both he and Quisenberry were released. General manager John Schuerholz commended Garber as his career ended, “He worked really hard and was a very good influence in our clubhouse. Even, in fact, this day he handled it like a real pro.”45

Garber ended his career seventh on the career saves list with 218 and tops in Braves history with 141. Thirty years after his retirement, only John Smoltz and Craig Kimbrel had passed Garber among Atlanta closers. Since saves became an official statistic in 1969, Garber has the third-most saves of seven outs or longer (64). He also has the second-most of both eight outs or longer (58) and nine outs or more (52). In particular, he has the most of at least ten outs (20) in major-league history.

After leaving the game, Garber returned to his hometown of Elizabethtown and the chicken farm of nearly 400 acres that he and Karen had purchased earlier in the decade. He refused to concede that he retired. “I didn’t retire they retired me,” he said in 2008.46 A decade previously, he’d remarked, “I pitched a long time in the major leagues, got a lot of saves. Despite having a pretty good career, I thought I never got credit for it. The thing I am remembered for is stopping Pete Rose’s streak. ‘Hey, there’s Gene Garber that’s the guy who stopped Rose.’”47

Although the onset of his second career came on perhaps begrudgingly, his passion for farming had never been in doubt. Twenty years later, he explained, “I enjoy everything about farming. I’ve had two jobs in my life, and I’ve loved them both.”48 The work on the farm also allowed Garber to spend time with his two sons, Greg and Mike. He later became active in emu raising and was treasurer of the Pennsylvania Emu Farmers Association.49

Garber’s older son, Greg, was a key member of Elizabethtown High’s 1993 Class AAA Pennsylvania state baseball championship. He went 13-1 on the mound and won seven postseason games, including the championship contest. The younger Garber said of his father, “He pitched all those years in the majors and he’s never been as nervous as when he watches me pitch.”50

When professional baseball came back to Lancaster in 2004 after a 43-year absence, Garber was considered as the first manager of the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League. The gig instead went to Tom Herr, another former major leaguer from Lancaster.51 As of 2019, Garber has been a special instructor at spring training for the Braves for 14 straight years.

Garber’s younger son, Mike, took control of the family farm late in the 2010s, but Gene continues as an employee for and consultant to his son.52 Gene has donated conservation easements to the Lancaster Farmland Trust in order to preserve farmland in his home county.53 He has also been a long-time member of Lancaster County’s Agricultural Preserve Board, including service as chairman.54 Garber’s philosophy on preservation is simple. “It is God’s land given to us to shepherd wisely. It is our legacy to use well and pass on to our children. This has been the way of life in Lancaster County since before I was brought into the world. I hope it will be preserved long after I’m gone.”55

Last revised: January 2, 2020


This biography was reviewed by Jack Zerby and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Kevin Larkin.

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also used the,, and websites for player, team, and season pages, and other pertinent material.

1 Henry E. Garber obituary, Lancaster Online, January 12, 2009 (

4 “Schoolboy Garber Keeps Busy With Work at York,” The Sporting News, May 11, 1968: 41.

5 The Sporting News, August 3, 1968: 32, 35-36.

6 The Sporting News, September 21, 1968: 31-32.

7 The Sporting News, September 21, 1968: 31-32.

8 The Sporting News, May 31, 1969: 39.

9 “Hot-Cold Bucs Pose a Puzzle,” The Sporting News, June 28, 1969: 8.

10 “Hot-Cold Bucs Pose a Puzzle.”

11 “Baseball ’N Diamonds Blend Perfectly for Karen and Gene, The Sunday News (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), February 8, 1970: 22.

12 A.L. Hardman, “Garber’s Mound Career on Rise with Sinkerball,” The Sporting News, August 21, 1971: 35.

13 Hardman, “Garber’s Mound Career on Rise with Sinkerball.”

14 The Sporting News, January 29, 1972: 47.

15 A.L. Hardman, “Charleston’s Garber Making Believers Out of Parent Bucs,” The Sporting News, July 8, 1972: 35.

17 The Sporting News, May 27, 1972: 40.

18 The Sporting News, July 1, 1972: 31-32.

19 A.L. Hardman, “Charleston’s Garber Making Believers Out of Parent Bucs,” The Sporting News, July 8, 1972: 35.

20 Charley Feeney, “Buccos Don Widest Grins When Rooker Is on Relief,” The Sporting News, June 23, 1973: 12.

21 Charley Feeney, “Pirates See ‘V for Victory’ With Virdon in ’73 Season,” The Sporting News, November 4, 1972: 18.

22 The Sporting News, August 10, 1974: 33-34.

23 Ray Kelly, “Garber Leaps Up Ladder as Philly Fireman,” The Sporting News, June 7, 1975: 10.

24 By metrics developed in the 21st century by websites like and applied retroactively, Garber was second on the team in wins above replacement (WAR), a measure of overall value to the team, behind only Hall of Famer Steve Carlton.

25 Ray Kelly, “Garber Leaps Up Ladder as Philly Fireman,” The Sporting News, June 7, 1975: 10.

26 Kevin Freeman, “Black Friday Revisited,” Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), October 18, 2007: C1.

27 Freeman, “Black Friday Revisited,”

28 Freeman, “Black Friday Revisited,”

29 Joe O’Loughlin, “Former Reliever Gene Garber Recalls 19-year Career and His Role in Baseball History,” Baseball Digest, February 2004.

30 O’Loughlin, “Former Reliever Gene Garber Recalls 19-year Career and His Role in Baseball History.”

31 Ray Kelly, “Pressure Off Ruthven After Return to Phillies,” The Sporting News, July 8, 1978: 6.

32 Carroll Rogers, “Ex-Braves Pitcher Enjoys Life on the Farm,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 13, 2009.

33 Joe O’Loughlin, “Former Reliever Gene Garber Recalls 19-year Career and His Role in Baseball History,” Baseball Digest, February 2004.

34 Larry McWilliams. “Relief is Spelled . . . Geno,” Braves Yearbook, 1979.

35 I.J. Rosenberg, “A Night to Remember,” Sunday News (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), August 9, 1998: C1.

36 Furman Bisher, “99.7 Percent of Fans Can’t Dig Ballplayers,” The Sporting News, April 19, 1980: 16. Garber had been prescient, though. In 1981, a two-month strike cost baseball the All-Star Game and resulted in a split-season arrangement to determine the postseason contestants.

37 Tim Tucker, “Nahorodny Has a Wait Problem,” The Sporting News, May 23, 1981: 39.

38 Ben Henkey, “Silver Anniversary of Gold Glove,” The Sporting News, November 22, 1982: 49.

39 Peter Gammons, “Trammell’s Absence at Short Showing,” The Sporting News, August 20, 1984: 23. Peter Gammons, “Rich Are Getting Richer in A.L. East,” The Sporting News, December 31, 1984: 64.

40 Online New York Post, July 15, 1985,, accessed April 2018.

41 The Sporting News, July 7, 1986: 19.

42 The Sporting News, November 10, 1986: 53.

43 Gerry Fraley, “Garber Joins Elite Bullpen Circle,” The Sporting News, June 29, 1987: 20.

44 The Sporting News, December 21, 1987: 50.

45 Tyrone Daily Herald, August 4, 1988: 5.

46 Elizabeth McGarr, “Gene Garber,” Sports Illustrated, July 14, 2008.

47 I.J. Rosenberg, “A Night to Remember,” Sunday News (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), August 9, 1998: C1.

50 Gordie Jones, “A Gritty Effort by Garber,” Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), June 18, 1993: D1

51 Jeff Young, “On Deck: Building the Barnstormers”, Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), September 14, 2004: C1.

52 Jeff Young, “Elizabethtown Native Gene Garber Irked by Aspects of Baseball Today,” LNP (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), August 4, 2018.

Player News

Register Pitching
199622 2 Teams2 LgsACHW16.1434.556.00318800299.0120665083107361134521.52510.
1996220.7South BendMIDWACHW05.0005.107.55147400047.26040276150272612241.57311.
All Levels (2 Seasons) 67.4623.284.47501412002159.015779581143013971276811.2588.
A (1 season) Minors 16.1434.556.00318800299.0120665083107361134521.52510.
Rk (1 season) Minors 51.8331.201.95196400060.0371383120661142290.8175.

Argo (2012)

Actor Victor Garber (left) portrays Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor (right).

Did Tony really come up with the cover story himself?

Did the CIA really set up a fake movie production company?

Yes. Like in the film, it was called Studio Six Productions. The company's production offices were located on the Columbia lot in Hollywood. Actor Michael Douglas had just vacated the offices after wrapping production on The China Syndrome.

Yes. Tony and John Chambers (John Goodman in the movie) picked the script from a pile of manuscripts that had been previously submitted to Chambers for his consideration. Based on the award-winning 1967 Roger Zelazny sci-fi novel Lord of Light, the script was in part chosen because it was complicated and hard to follow. It also celebrated Islam to a certain degree. These two attributes, coupled with the growing popularity of science fiction films following the success of Star Wars, made it an excellent choice.

Was the phrase "Argo f**k yourself" really a running joke at the time?

Yes. Tony states that John Chambers (John Goodman in the movie) once told a vulgar "knock-knock" joke that had the phrase "Argo f**ck yourself" as the punchline. Tony's CIA team often repeated the line as a way to break the tension when they were stressed and working long hours. John Chambers remembered telling the joke and recalled the meaning behind the name "Argo".

Where did the title "Argo" come from?

The title "Argo" that Tony and John Chambers gave to the screenplay came from Greek mythology, specifically it is the name of Jason and the Argonauts' ship that they sailed to the sacred garden to rescue the Golden Fleece from the clutches of the many-headed dragon. "This precisely described the situation in Iran," states Tony.

Did they really run a full-page ad in Variety to give the fake movie credibility?

Argo movie poster that appeared as a full-page ad in Variety.

Yes. In order to add credibility to the fake production, Tony's team, working in secrecy alongside his Hollywood consultants, arranged for full-page ads to appear in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, two well-respected trade publications. The actual ad is pictured at right.

The day before the faux production company took out the full-page ad for Argo, Variety published the following blurb about the company and its project in its Pix, People, Pickups roundup, "Studio Six Prods. has announced that sci-fi thriller, 'Argo,' will begin filming in March on various locations in Asia and Europe. Indie is keeping mum on any plot and cast details until just before pic is released."

Famed comic book artist Jack Kirby's Argo concept artwork.

Yes, the storyboards were created, but the real story behind Argo reveals that Tony Mendez never gave them to the officers at the airport (Argo: Inside Story). Various pieces of concept art for the film still exist today and have appeared on display in spy related exhibits around the US. The concept art was created by world famous comic book artist Jack Kirby. A piece of this Argo concept art is shown at left.

How did the CIA get the forged documentation for the six Americans into Iran?

The CIA team sent it via diplomatic pouch to the Canadian Embassy in Tehran, Iran. CIA specialists, who pretended to be part of the Studio Six Production team, traveled to Iran to make final arrangements and complete the travel documents.

Did Tony Mendez really use the alias "Kevin Harkins" as his cover?

Did Tony Mendez really meet the six Americans by himself?

No. The real Tony Mendez worked with another OTS (Office of Technical Services) Officer, a Latin American authentication officer who he refers to as "Julio", who had a significant amount of exfiltration experience ( He also had other contacts helping him during the escape at the airport in Tehran (Argo: Inside Story).

Did Tony really meet the six at Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor's house?

John Sheardown and his wife Zena hid four of the six Americans.

Did Joe Stafford really become anxious about the plan?

Yes. In the movie, Joe Stafford (portrayed by actor Scoot McNairy) expresses quite a bit of anxiety and reluctance with regard to Tony's proposed plan of having the group pose as members of a movie production company. The real Tony Mendez states that as they discussed the mechanics of the escape, Joe did express anxiety over the risks involved.

Did they really have to venture into town to scout a possible location?

No. In the movie, Tony (Ben Affleck) and the six are left with no choice but to meet with two men associated with the Iranian film office. They drive into town and venture through a market where an older man confronts Kathy Stafford (Kerry Bishé) for taking Polaroid photos. He yells at her and states that his son had been killed by a gun supplied by America. The true story behind the Argo movie reveals that this never actually happened, nor did they ever venture into town to scout a location.

Was the housekeeper in the movie based on a real person?

Sheila Vand (left) as Sahar in the movie and the real maid named Lolita (right).

Did they really hear a helicopter hovering above the house like in the movie?

Yes. When interviewed about the real story, John Sheardown's wife Zena recalls a helicopter hovering over their home for quite a bit of time, which caused significant concern, believing that the Iranians had found out and were looking for their home. Unlike what is shown in the movie (or in this case not shown in the movie), they later discovered that the police were looking for an Iranian gunman who assassinated a religious leader in that area. To reiterate, John and his wife are not represented in the movie, despite hiding four of the six Americans. -Canadian Caper, PBS Documentary

Did the Canadian Ambassador's wife really receive a strange phone call?

Did they really hold a trial interrogation the night before they left?

Yes, but in researching the Argo true story, we discovered that unlike what is shown in the film, Tony Mendez did not act as the interrogator. Instead, a man named Roger Lucy, who was house-sitting with the four Americans staying at the Sheardown's home, volunteered to be the interrogator. He spoke Farsi fluently, the language of the area. He conducted the mock interrogations dressed in military fatigues, complete with a hat, jack boots, sunglasses and a swagger stick.

How long was Tony in Iran before leaving with the six Americans?

Tony and his partner, who he calls "Julio", arrived in Mehrabad, Iran at 5 a.m. on Friday, January 25, 1980. Tony departed Iran with the six Americans three days later on Monday morning, January 28.

How long were the six Americans in hiding before their escape?

The six Americans were in hiding in Iran for nearly 3 months, from November 4, 1979 until their escape on the morning of January 28, 1980. After eventually ending up in the large home of the Canadian Deputy Chief of Mission, John Sheardown (not represented in the movie), they spent their time perfecting their culinary skills and playing lots of scrabble.

By comparison, the 52 hostages that remained in the American Embassy building for the entire duration of the Iran hostage crisis were not released until January 20, 1981, almost a full year after Tony Mendez got the six Americans (dubbed the "Canadian Six") out. They spent a total of 444 days as captives.

Was the mission really called off the night before like in the Argo movie?

No. The mission had never been called off at the last minute, forcing Tony Mendez to make a passionate call to his boss to tell him he was going through with it anyway. In reality, the mission had always been a go ever since American President Jimmy Carter gave his approval prior to Tony taking his flight into Tehran, Iran.

The real Tony Mendez woke up forty-five minutes late the morning he was to meet up with the six Americans at the airport. He had slept through his watch alarm and was woken up when his ride to the airport had arrived and called his hotel room. He rushed to get ready and made it downstairs 15 minutes later.

Were the airline tickets really approved and confirmed at the last minute?

No. The suspenseful Argo movie scene that requires Ben Affleck's character to ask the woman at the airport ticket counter to recheck for the tickets never actually happened in real life. The reservations had always been in place and there weren't any problems at the counter or the checkpoints.

Did Tony and the six Americans really get held up at the airport and then chased down the runway as the plane took off?

No. In reality, the six Americans arrived at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport with Tony's CIA partner "Julio". Tony had arrived ahead of them to make sure that he cleared customs and could check in at the airline counter without any trouble. He met them after they made it through successfully, and the group then proceeded through the immigration/emigration checkpoint together without any problems, unlike what is shown in the movie.

The only setback occurred when the plane was delayed for an hour due to a minor mechanical problem. When the problem was resolved they took the airport bus out to where they boarded the plane and it lifted off for Zurich, Switzerland. They were not chased down the runway by the officers and Revolutionary Guard at the airport. However, they did in fact breathe a collective sigh of relief once they cleared Iranian airspace. To celebrate their escape, they toasted with Bloody Marys.

The ease of their real life escape is partially attributed to the fact that they had booked an early morning 7:30 a.m. flight when the airport would be much less crowded, the officers would be sleepy and the Revolutionary Guard would be mostly still in bed.

Did they really have to present a matching yellow copy of the embarkation/disembarkation form?

Yes. They did have to present the forged yellow copy of the embarkation/disembarkation form to match the copy that was supposed to have been filled out when they arrived in the country. There was a moment when someone at a counter did walk away with papers that belonged to a member of the group like in the movie, but the employee only stepped away to get a cup of tea and returned shortly. There was no need to further present a letter from the Ministry of Culture like in the movie. -Argo: Inside Story

It is unclear whether the moment described above is the same instance that the real Lee Schatz describes in the PBS Documentary, where his passport was momentarily taken into a side room. The man who returned with it asked him if it was indeed him in the photo, since his expression was different and his mustache was longer in the passport photo. Lee said it was and the man believed him and let him through. -Canadian Caper, PBS Documentary

Were they really detained and questioned at the airport like in the movie?

No. As stated above, our research into the true story revealed that Tony Mendez and the six Americans were not detained at the airport. They were not sequestered like in the movie. There was therefore no nearly missed nail-biting phone call to Studio Six Productions to verify their backgrounds. Tony also never gave Iranian officers storyboard sketches to keep as souvenirs.

I heard that the nose of the plane had the name "Argau" on it, is this true?

Yes. Although it is not shown in the film (likely to avoid confusion and to sustain believability), the actual Swissair plane that the Americans flew out on had the name "Argau" lettered on its nose. The Swissair plane had been given the name Argau after a region in Switzerland. Noticing the name on the nose as the group walked up the ramp to board the plane, Bob Anders punched Tony Mendez in the arm and said, "You arranged for everything, didn't you?"

Actual Studio Six Productions business card on display at the Int'l Spy Museum.

Studio Six Productions closed its doors several weeks after Tony Mendez and his team helped the six Americans escape from Iran, however, not without grabbing Hollywood's attention. The CIA's fake movie production company created such a convincing cover that it had received 26 scripts, including one from Steven Spielberg.

When was the story finally revealed to the public?

The story of the CIA's involvement in helping the six Americans to escape Iran on January 28, 1980 was declassified and revealed to the public as part of the Agency's 50th Anniversary celebrations in 1997.

Tony Mendez and his partner in the Iran operation each received the CIA's Intelligence Star award. Tony continued to work for the CIA, eventually retiring in 1990 after 25 years of service. He has since written four books, including the memoir Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA, which chronicles his experiences. He spends much of his time painting in his art studios on his forty acre farm in rural Washington County, Maryland. Along with his wife, a 27-year veteran of the CIA herself, he has also served on the Board of Directors of the International Spy Museum.

Where was the movie shot?

In addition to various locations in California (Warner Bros. Studios, etc.) and a CIA Headquarters scene shot in Virginia, shooting for the movie took place in Istanbul, Turkey which stood in for Iran. The airport scene at what was supposed to be Tehran's Mehrabad Airport was shot at the LA/Ontario International Airport, which is actually located in the city of Ontario, a city in San Bernardino County, California (not in Ontario, Canada).

See video of the real people behind the Argo movie. Watch Tony Mendez interviews and an hour-long PBS documentary from 1980 titled Canadian Caper, which was the name given to the joint US/Canada operation to rescue the six Americans.

This PBS documentary is told through the eyes of the real Americans who escaped from Iran. The real Bob Anders, Mark Lijek, Cora Lijek and Lee Schatz are interviewed, in addition to a handful of others who were involved. What's most interesting is that they were then still required to lie about the CIA's involvement in their escape.

This news piece features Tony Mendez in 2013 shortly after Argo won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Tony talks about going to the Oscars and reflects on the Argo true story.

This news piece chronicles the events of the day the Americans were released, Inauguration Day, January 20, 1981. It describes President Jimmy Carter's last ditch efforts to get the hostages released before President Ronald Reagan took his oath of office.

Argo movie trailer for the 2012 fact-based film directed by and starring Ben Affleck.

Joe Garber - History

American Visitors to North Lopham

On Saturday 20th May 2006 , a coach load of representatives of the 96th Bomb Group, which was based at Snetterton during the Second World War, visited North Lopham as part of a tour of sites of special significance for them and their nation.

The visitors were welcomed at the War Memorial by Albert Crook, who worked so hard to organise the addition of a special memorial to the 18 American aircrew who died when their planes collided over the Lophams in January 1945, and Richard Vere who drew up the design for the memorial. Only one of this group had been present at the dedication ceremony in 2002 the others were fascinated to learn of its history. After placing flowers at the memorial, the visitors were entertained to lunch prepared by ladies from the Parish Council, in Lophams' Village Hall. When Albert Crook had described what the collision day had been like for local residents (miraculously no- one was killed when the bombs and aircraft debris rained down on the community), one of the other pilots, Al, who was flying that day read out his diary entry for January 29th 1945. This was the first time that local people had heard what it had been like for the other aircrews - a very moving moment for everyone present in the village hall.

The coach party then left Lopham for a visit to Hingham, birthplace of the ancestors of Abraham Lincoln. They followed the scenic route through Eccles village so that Al could stand once more on the station where he used to catch the London train on his wartime days off.

Thanks to Geoff Ward (the UK contact for 96 Bomb Group Association) for organising the visit and to Jan Tate, Val Garnham, Joan Muncila and Nancy Reeder for providing and preparing the lunch.

All photos from this visit reproduced below are by courtesy of Bruce Martin, to whom all enquiries (e.g. permission to reproduce photos) should be addressed (c/o Geoff Ward).

All seven veterans with local organisers.

L- R Geoff Ward John Goddard Albert Crook

Tom Tierney, (Co pilot, ex POW)

George Bonitz, (Waist Gunner)

Joe Garber, (Radio Operator, ex POW)

Harry Shirey, (Tail gunner, ex POW)

Don Barcliff, (Waist gunner)

Albert Crook shakes hands with George Bonitz and Joe Garber. Joe Garber was making his first return back to Snetterton since he was shot down in July 1944 - sixty two years ago

George Bonitz and Joe Garber laying a floral tribute to the two crews at the memorial. Both these men are representatives from the 338th and 337th Squadrons from which the two crews belonged

George Bonitz and Joe Garber salute at the memorial after laying their tribute

Buffet lunch in village hall

On Thursday 14th July 2005 , Bob Strawser from Indiana USA visited North Lopham with a group of 15 relatives and friends. Bob’s uncle, Sgt. Maynard Faux, was one of the USAF airmen killed on 29th January 1945 in a mid- air collision over the Lophams. Until making contact with the village via the North Lopham web- site, Bob and his family had very little information about the circumstances of the crash.

During lunch at ‘The King’s Head’ they met several villagers, including Albert Crook (author of books about the Lophams war- time memories and about the crash), Albert’s wife Lillian, past Parish Council Chairman, Richard Vere, and present Chairman, Brian Frith. They were able to see various items of memorabilia including wartime photos of the crash sites and damage in North Lopham and to handle several small items retrieved from the crash site by locals at the time. British Legion representative, John Goddard, presented all members of the group with ‘Thanks’ button badges. Albert Crook presented the visitors with a copy of his booklet about the air crash and his book ‘The Lophams Wartime Memories’.

After lunch the party walked to the war memorial where Geoff Ward, the British contact of the 96th Bomb Group Association recorded a short interview with Bob and his brother, Randy, for inclusion in a video being produced later in the year. Before leaving the area for Bob’s son’s wedding in Manchester on 16th July, they also visited the outstandingly beautiful and moving 96th Bomb Group Memorial at Snetterton.

Bob told how he had been impressed with the commemorative plaque on the North Lopham war memorial and by the interest taken by local people in the wartime history of all associated with 96th Bomb Group. His mother (Maynard Faux’s sister), although too frail to travel to the UK, would be pleased to hear of new- found friends from Lopham, and, at long last, to receive more details of the circumstances surrounding her brother’s untimely death in 1945.

From the left: Geoff Ward (96th Bomb Group Association) interviews Bob Strawser and Randy Strawser at North Lopham War Memorial.

Front row from the left: Richard Vere, Albert Crook and Lillian Crook with Bob Strawser (4th from left) and his family.

The Ax Murderer Who Got Away

Shortly after midnight on June 10, 1912—one hundred years ago this week—a stranger hefting an ax lifted the latch on the back door of a two-story timber house in the little Iowa town of Villisca. The door was not locked—crime was not the sort of thing you worried about in a modestly prosperous Midwest settlement of no more than 2,000 people, all known to one another by sight—and the visitor was able to slip inside silently and close the door behind him. Then, according to a reconstruction attempted by the town coroner next day, he took an oil lamp from a dresser, removed the chimney and placed it out of the way under a chair, bent the wick in two to minimize the flame, lit the lamp, and turned it down so low it cast only the faintest glimmer in the sleeping house.

From This Story

Villisca: The True Account of the Unsolved Mass Murder That Stunned The Nation

Still carrying the ax, the stranger walked past one room in which two girls, ages 12 and 9, lay sleeping, and slipped up the narrow wooden stairs that led to two other bedrooms. He ignored one, in which four more young children were sleeping, and crept into the room in which 43-year-old Joe Moore lay next to his wife, Sarah. Raising the ax high above his head—so high it gouged the ceiling—the man brought the flat of the blade down on the back of Joe Moore’s head, crushing his skull and probably killing him instantly. Then he struck Sarah a blow before she had time to wake or register his presence.

The Moore house in Villisca, 1912. One of the town’s larger and better-appointed properties, it still stands today and has been turned into Villisca’s premier tourist attraction. For a price, visitors can stay in the house overnight there is no shortage of interested parties.

Leaving the couple dead or dying, the killer went next door and used the ax—Joe’s own, probably taken from where it had been left in the coal shed—to kill the four Moore children as they slept. Once again, there is no evidence that Herman, 11 Katherine, 10 Boyd, 7 or Paul, 5, woke before they died. Nor did the assailant or any of the four children make sufficient noise to disturb Katherine’s two friends, Lena and Ina Stillinger, as they slept downstairs. The killer then descended the stairs and took his ax to the Stillinger girls, the elder of whom may finally have awakened an instant before she, too, was murdered.

What happened next marked the Villisca killings as truly peculiar and still sends shivers down the spine a century after the fact. The ax man went back upstairs and systematically reduced the heads of all six Moores to bloody pulp, striking Joe alone an estimated 30 times and leaving the faces of all six members of the family  unrecognizable. He then drew up the bedclothes to cover Joe and Sarah’s shattered heads, placed a gauze undershirt over Herman’s face and a dress over Katherine’s, covered Boyd and Paul as well, and finally administered the same terrible postmortem punishment to the girls downstairs before touring the house and ritually hanging cloths over every mirror and piece of glass in it. At some point the killer also took a two-pound slab of uncooked bacon from the icebox, wrapped it in a towel, and left it on the floor of the downstairs bedroom close to a short piece of key chain that did not, apparently, belong to the Moores. He seems to have stayed inside the house for quite some time, filling a bowl with water and–some later reports said–washing his bloody hands in it. Some time before 5 a.m., he abandoned the lamp at the top of the stairs and left as silently as he had come, locking the doors behind him. Taking the house keys, the murderer vanished as the Sunday sun rose red in the sky.

Lena and Ina Stillinger. Lena, the elder of the girls, was the only one who may have awoken before she died.

The Moores were not discovered until several hours later, when a neighbor, worried by the absence of any sign of life in the normally boisterous household, telephoned Joe’s brother, Ross, and asked him to investigate. Ross found a key on his chain that opened the front door, but barely entered the house before he came rushing out again, calling for Villisca’s marshal, Hank Horton. That set in train a sequence of events that destroyed what little hope there may have been of gathering useful evidence from the crime scene. Horton brought along Drs. J. Clark Cooper and Edgar Hough and Wesley Ewing, the minister of the Moore’s Presbyterian congregation. They were followed by the county coroner, L.A. Linquist, and a third doctor, F.S. Williams (who became the first to examine the bodies and estimate a time of death). When a shaken Dr Williams emerged, he cautioned members of the growing crowd outside: “Don’t go in there, boys you’ll regret it until the last day of your life.” Many ignored the advice as many as 100 curious neighbors and townspeople tramped as they pleased through the house, scattering fingerprints, and in one case even removing fragments of Joe Moore’s skull as a macabre keepsake.

The murders convulsed Villisca, particularly after a few clumsy and futile attempts to search the surrounding countryside for a transient killer failed to unearth a likely suspect. The simple truth was that there was no sign of the murderer’s whereabouts. He might have vanished back into his own home nearby equally, given a head start of up to five hours in a town at which nearly 30 trains called every day, he might easily have made good his escape. Bloodhounds were tried without success after that there was little for the townspeople to do but gossip, swap theories–and strengthen their locks. By sundown there was not a dog to be bought in Villisca at any price.

Dona Jones, daughter-in-law of Iowa state senator Frank Jones, was widely rumored in Villisca to have had an affair with Joe Moore.

The most obvious suspect may have been Frank Jones, a tough local businessman and state senator who was also a prominent member of Villisca’s Methodist church. Edgar Epperly, the leading authority on the murders, reports that the town quickly split along religious lines, the Methodists insisting on Jones’s innocence and the Moores’ Presbyterian congregation convinced of his guilt. Though never formally charged with any involvement in the murders, Jones became the subject of a grand jury investigation and a prolonged campaign to prove his guilt which destroyed his political career. Many townspeople were certain he used his considerable influence to have the case against him quashed.

There were at least two compelling reasons to believe that Jones had nursed a hatred of Joe Moore. First, the dead man had worked for him for seven years, becoming the star salesman of Jones’s farm-equipment business. But Moore had left in 1907–dismayed, perhaps, by his boss’s insistence on hours of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., six days a week—and set himself up as a head-to-head rival, taking the valuable John Deere account with him. Worse, he was also believed to have slept with Jones’s vivacious daughter-in-law, a local beauty whose numerous affairs were well known in town thanks to her astonishingly indiscreet habit of arranging trysts over the telephone at a time when all calls in Villisca had to be placed through an operator. By 1912 relations between Jones and Moore had grown so cold that the they began to cross the street to avoid each other, an ostentatious sign of hatred in such a minuscule community.

The Reverend Lyn Kelly, a markedly peculiar Presbyterian preacher, attended the Children’s Day service in Villisca at which the Moore children gave recitations, and later confessed to murdering the family—only to recant and claim police brutality.

Few people in Villisca believed that a man of Jones’s age and eminence—he was 57 in 1912—would have swung the ax himself, but in some minds he was certainly capable of paying someone else to wipe out Moore and his family. That was the theory of James Wilkerson, an agent of the renowned Burns Detective Agency, who in 1916 announced that Jones had hired a killer by the name of William Mansfield to murder the man who had humiliated him. Wilkerson—who made enough of a nuisance of himself to derail Jones’s attempts to secure re-election to the state senate, and who eventually succeeded in having a grand jury convened to consider the evidence he had gathered–was able to show that Mansfield had the right sort of background for the job: In 1914 he was the chief suspect in the ax murders of his wife, her parents and his own child in Blue Island, Illinois.

Unfortunately for Wilkerson, Mansfield turned out to have a cast-iron alibi for the Villisca killings. Payroll records showed that had been working several hundred miles away in Illinois at the time of the murders, and he was released for lack of evidence. That did not stop many locals—including Ross Moore and Joe Stillinger, father of the two Stillinger girls—from believing in Jones’s guilt. The rancor caused by Wilkerson lingered on in the town for years.

The advert that Lyn Kelly placed in the Omaha World-Herald. One respondent received a “lascivious” multi-page reply which told her she would be required to type in the nude.

For others, though, there was a far stronger–and far stranger– candidate for the ax man. His name was Lyn George Jacklin Kelly, and he was an English immigrant, a preacher and a known sexual deviant with well-recorded mental problems. He had been in the town on the night of the murders and freely admitted that he had left on a dawn train just before the bodies were discovered. There were things about Kelly that made him seem an implausible suspect—not least that he stood only 5-foot-2 and weighed 119 pounds—but in other ways he fit the bill. He was left-handed, and Coroner Linquist had determined from an examination of blood spatters in the murder house that the killer probably swung his ax that way. Kelly was obsessed with sex, and had been caught peering into windows in Villisca two days before the murders. In 1914, living in Winner, South Dakota, he would advertise for a “girl stenographer” to do “confidential work,” and that ad, placed in the Omaha World-Herald, would also specify that the successful candidate “must be willing to pose as model.” When a young woman named Jessamine Hodgson responded, she received in return a letter, described by a judge as “so obscene, lewd, lascivious and filthy as to be offensive to this honorable court and improper to be spread upon the record thereof.” Amongst his milder instructions, Kelly told Hodgson that she would be required to type in the nude.

Convicted ax murderer Henry Lee Moore was the suspect favored by Department of Justice Special Agent Matthew McClaughry–who believed he committed a total of nearly 30 similar murders across the Midwest in 1911-12 .

Investigation soon made plain that there were links between Lyn Kelly and the Moore family. Most sinister, for those who believed in the little preacher’s guilt, was the fact that Kelly had attended the Children’s Day service held at Villisca’s Presbyterian church on the evening of the murders. The service had been organized by Sarah Moore, and her children, together with Lena and Ina Stillinger, had played prominent parts, dressed up in their Sunday best. Many in Villisca were willing to believe that Kelly had spotted the family in the church and become obsessed with them, and that he had spied on the Moore household as it went to bed that evening. The idea that the killer had lain in wait for the Moores to go to sleep was supported by some evidence Linquist’s investigation had revealed a depression in some bales of hay stored in the family barn, and a knot hole through which the murderer could have watched the house while reclining in comfort. That Lena Stillinger had been found wearing no underwear and with her nightdress drawn up past her waist did suggest a sexual motive, but doctors found no evidence of that sort of assault.

It took time for the case against Kelly to get anywhere, but in 1917 another grand jury finally assembled to hear the evidence linking him with Lena’s murder. At first glance, the case against Kelly seemed compelling he had sent bloody clothing to the laundry in nearby Macedonia, and an elderly couple recalled meeting the preacher when he alighted from a 5.19 a.m. train from Villisca that June 10 and being told that gruesome murders had been committed in the town—a hugely incriminating statement, since the preacher had left Villisca three hours before the killings were discovered. It also emerged that Kelly had returned to Villisca a week later and shown great interest in the murders, even posing as a Scotland Yard detective to obtain a tour of the Moore house. Arrested in 1917, the Englishman was repeatedly interrogated and eventually signed a confession to the murder in which he stated: “I killed the children upstairs first and the children downstairs last. I knew God wanted me to do it this way. `Slay utterly’ came to my mind, and I picked up the axe, went into the house and killed them.” This he later recanted, and the couple who claimed to have spoken to him on the morning after murders changed their story. With little left to tie him firmly to the killings, the first grand jury to hear Kelly’s case hung 11-1 in favor of refusing to indict him, and a second panel freed him.

Rollin and Anna Hudson were the victims of an ax murderer in Paola, Kansas, just five days before the Villisca killings.

Perhaps the strongest evidence that both Jones and Kelly were most likely innocent came not from Villisca itself but from other communities in the Midwest, where, in 1911 and 1912, a bizarre chain of ax murders seemed to suggest that a transient serial killer was at work. The researcher Beth Klingensmith has suggested that as many as 10 incidents that occurred close to railway tracks but in locations as far apart as Rainier, Washington, and Monmouth, Illinois, might form part of this chain, and in several cases there are striking similarities to the Villisca crime. The pattern, first pointed out in 1913 by Special Agent Matthew McClaughry of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Investigation (forerunner of the FBI), began with the murder of a family of six in Colorado Springs in September 1911 and continued with two further incidents in Monmouth (where the murder weapon was actually a pipe) and in Ellsworth, Kansas. Three and five people died in those attacks, and two more in Paola, Kansas, where someone murdered Rollin Hudson and his unfaithful wife just four days before the killings in Villisca. As far as McClaughry was concerned, the slaughter culminated in December 1912 with the brutal murders of Mary Wilson and her daughter Georgia Moore in Columbia, Missouri. His theory was that Henry Lee Moore, Georgia’s son and a convict with a  history of violence, was responsible for the whole series.

It is not necessary to believe that Henry Lee Moore was a serial killer to consider that the string of Midwest ax murders have intriguing similarities that may tie the Villisca massacre to other crimes. Moore is now rarely considered a good suspect he was certainly an unsavory character—released from a reformatory in Kansas shortly before the ax murders began, arrested in Jefferson City, Missouri, shortly after they ended, and eventually convicted of the Columbia murders. But his motive in that case was greed–he planned to obtain the deeds to his family house–and it is rare for a wandering serial killer to return home and kill his own family. Nonetheless, analysis of the sequence of murders—and several others that McClaughry did not consider—yields some striking comparisons.

Blanche Wayne, of Colorado Springs, may have been the first victim of a Midwest serial murderer. She was killed in her bed in September 1911 by an ax man who heaped bedclothes on her head and stopped to wash his hands, leaving the weapon at the scene.

The use of an ax in almost every case was perhaps not so remarkable in itself while there certainly was an unusual concentration of ax killings in the Midwest at this time, almost every family in rural districts owned such an implement, and often left it lying in their yard as such, it might be considered a weapon of convenience. Similarly, the fact that the victims died asleep in their beds was likely a consequence of the choice of weapon an ax is nearly useless against a mobile target. Yet other similarities among the crimes are much harder to explain away. In eight of the 10 cases, the murder weapon was found abandoned at the scene of the crime in as many as seven, there was a railway line nearby in three, including Villisca, the murders took place on a Sunday night. Just as significant, perhaps, four of the cases—Paolo, Villisca, Rainier and a solitary murder that took place in Mount Pleasant, Iowa—featured killers who covered their victims’ faces, three murderers had washed at the scene, and at least five of the killers had lingered in the murder house. Perhaps most striking of all, two other homes (those of the victims of the Ellsworth and Paola murders) had been lit by lamps in which the chimney had been laid aside and the wick bent down, just as it had been at Villisca.

Whether or not all these murders really were connected remains a considerable puzzle. Some pieces of evidence fit patterns, but others do not. How, for example, might a stranger to Villisca have so uneeringly located Joe and Sarah Moore’s bedroom by low lamp light, ignoring the children’s rooms until the adults were safely dead? On the other hand, the use of the flat of the ax blade to strike the fatal initial blows does suggest the murderer had previous experience–any deep cut made with the sharp edge of the blade was more likely to result in the ax becoming lodged in the wound, making it far riskier to attack a sleeping couple. And the Paola murders have striking similarities with Villisca aside from the killer’s use of a carefully adapted lamp in both cases, for example, odd incidents occurred the same night that suggest the killer may have attempted to strike twice. In Villisca, at 2.10 a.m. on the night of the murder, telephone operator Xenia Delaney heard strange footsteps approaching up the stairs, and an unknown hand tried her locked door, while in Paola, a second family was awakened in the dead of night by a sound that turned out to be a lamp chimney falling to the floor. Rising hurriedly, the occupants of that house were in time to see an unknown man escaping through a window.

Perhaps the spookiest of all such similarities, however, was the strange behavior of the unknown murderer of William Showman, his wife, Pauline, and their three children in Ellsworth, Kansas in October 1911. In the Ellsworth case, not only was a chimneyless lamp used to illuminate the murder scene, but a little heap of clothing had been placed over the Showmans’ telephone.

A Western Electric Model 317 telephone, one of the most popular on sale in the Midwest in 1911-12. Note the phone’s startlingly “human” features.

Why bother to muffle a phone that was highly unlikely to ring at one in the morning? Perhaps, as one student of the murders posits, for the same reason that the Villisca murderer took such great pains to cover the faces of his victims, and then went around the murder house carefully draping torn clothing and cloths over all the mirrors and all the windows: because he feared that his dead victims were somehow conscious of his presence. Might the Ellsworth killer have covered the telephone out of the same desperate desire to ensure that, nowhere in the murder house, was there a pair of eyes still watching him?

Beth H. Klingensmith. “The 1910s Ax Murders: An Overview of the McClaughry Theory.” Emporia State University Research Seminar, July 2006 Nick Kowalczyk. “Blood, Gore, Tourism: The Ax Murderer Who Saved a Small Town.”, April 29, 2012 Roy Marshall. Villisca: The True Account of the Unsolved Mass Murder That Stunned The Nation. Chula Vista : Aventine Press, 2003 Omaha World-Herald, June 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 1912 December 27, 1913 June 10, 2012.

Several bloggers offer thoughtful insights into the Midwest ax murders. For the Villisca case, The 1912 Villisca Axe Murders Blog is a good place to start, and there was also occasional coverage at CLEWS. Meanwhile, Getting the Axe covers the whole apparent sequence of 1911-12 ax killings, with only a minor focus on the Villisca case itself.

Joseph R. Garber

Joseph R. Garber was an American author, best known for his 1995 thriller Vertical Run and for the articles he wrote on technology for Forbes magazine.

Garber was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, moving often as an army brat. He attended the University of Virginia, but quit to join the U.S. Army himself, eventually graduating from East Tennessee State University in 1968 with a philosophy degree.

Garber worked for AT&T as a business long-distance consultant and a writer for the AT&T in-house magazine. He then worked as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton for a decade, writing fiction and non-fiction freelance in his spare time. After a prolonged flu, he quit his job and moved to Woodside, California, where he wrote for Forbes magazine and Joseph R. Garber was an American author, best known for his 1995 thriller Vertical Run and for the articles he wrote on technology for Forbes magazine.

Garber was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, moving often as an army brat. He attended the University of Virginia, but quit to join the U.S. Army himself, eventually graduating from East Tennessee State University in 1968 with a philosophy degree.

Garber worked for AT&T as a business long-distance consultant and a writer for the AT&T in-house magazine. He then worked as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton for a decade, writing fiction and non-fiction freelance in his spare time. After a prolonged flu, he quit his job and moved to Woodside, California, where he wrote for Forbes magazine and as a consultant in Redwood City, California until he was laid off.

Garber had written a manuscript, In Search of Shabbiness, as a response to the Tom Peters best-seller, In Search of Excellence. On the advice of literary agents, he rewrote it as the novel Rascal Money.

In 1995, his second novel Vertical Run, a corporate thriller, became an international best-seller. The book's setting is 200 Park Avenue, the address of Booz Allen. It was bought by a Hollywood studio in the 1990s only to be shelved in pre-production. His third novel, In a Perfect State, was published in 1999. His fourth novel, Whirlwind, with a retired CIA agent as protagonist, was published in 2004.