Forest Park Mayor David Lockhart reads the Gary Goodman proclamation to widow Ruth Goodman as the family listens from their seats inside council chambers Monday night. From left, Gary Goodman’s mother, Faye Goodman Phillips, brother Ray Goodman, sister Crystal Adams and brother-in-law Lanny Adams. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
FOREST PARK — It is said that the true measure of a man is reflected in how he treats someone who can do nothing for him in return.
The late Gary Tyrone Goodman proved that adage in his selfless giving to the Forest Park community, officials said during Monday night’s City Council meeting. Goodman, who died in October 2012 at 58 after a long illness, was a member of the city’s Architectural Design Review Board.
However, Goodman left a bigger mark on Forest Park than his input on the Main Street project, Mayor David Lockhart said. Lockhart was emotional as he described Goodman to residents before presenting the family with a proclamation.
“It would take a book, a novel, to describe my friend, Gary Goodman,” he said. “He served people, he loved people. He lived a life of serving others.”
His widow, Ruth Goodman, mother Faye Goodman Phillips, brother Ray Goodman, and sister and brother-in-law Lanny and Crystal Adams accepted the proclamation on behalf of the family. Other relatives include sons Ty and wife Mandy, Joshua and wife Lauren, Stacey and wife Micki, daughter Farrah Willoughby and husband Lee, sisters and brothers-in-law Diana and Roger McDaniel and Rhonda and Ron Holbrook, and grandchildren Tyler and Madison Goodman, Jesse, Emma, Chloe, Dinah and Whitney Welch and Banks Willoughby.
Goodman was a member of First Baptist Church in Forest Park, where he and Ruth Goodman were the force behind Mission Forest Park. The church’s community ministry has fed and clothed thousands of needy men, women and children since its inception almost 10 years ago. He also taught Sunday school.
Lockhart and City Manager Frank Brandon, who also gave a heartfelt tribute to Goodman, are members of the same church.
“I love Gary,” Brandon said. “He meant so much to me. He totally turned his life around. His life showed what great Christian faith can do.”
Goodman operated his own business for 30 years, Pro Trim Landscaping and Maintenance Co., and was known to send out crews to clear roofs, gutters and yards of elderly Forest Park residents who were strangers to him.
“He did it for free,” Lockhart said. “In fact, he did so me work in my mother’s yard.”
As Lockhart read the proclamation that Nov. 18 was Gary Goodman Day in Forest Park, Ruth Goodman stood beside him and cried.
“I didn’t mean to get up there and cry,” she said. “But I just couldn’t help it. It’s just wonderful.”
Ray Goodman said the passage of time — and a strong faith in God — has helped the family cope with his brother’s death.
“You know, my brother was sick for a long time before he died,” Ray Goodman said after the meeting ended. “Mama would tell him, ‘Gary, I’m praying for you.’ He’d tell her, ‘Don’t pray me out of Heaven, Mama.’” He paused, letting the memory sink in. “He’s in a better place. We’ll see him again.”