Friday, May 30, 2014

TOP STORY >> Beebe chamber honors Goffs

Leader staff writer

The Beebe Chamber of Commerce recognized three community leaders during its annual banquet on Thursday.

• Leroy Goff, 70, received the Lifetime Service Award. He was introduced by his son, Clay. Both were instrumental in the construction of Beebe’s new public library that was named in their honor.

This past year, when the new library was becoming a reality, Leroy Goff donated his time, labor and expertise to design and construct the building.

He was born in 1943 in Antioch, Calif., where his family was living in a labor camp and picking fruit. Leroy Goff, his mother and sister moved back to McRae when he was 45 days old. His father and brother stayed for the remainder of the harvest.

Leroy Goff went to first and second grade in McRae and started attending Beebe Public School in the third grade. As a fourth grader, Goff brought his dog, Old Puppy — a black water spaniel — to school. The dog stayed in the classroom, going out when class went out. Old Puppy became its mascot.

When Leroy Goff was 11 years old, he bought a lawn mower on credit from Powell and Company. By the end of the summer, he had the mower completely paid for, but it was completely worn out.

“Leroy soon realized he had worked all summer for absolutely nothing,” Clay Goff said.

Leroy Goff received a $100 inheritance from his aunt when he was 13. He bought a 1947 Plymouth for $90 and started a paper route in town.

Leroy Goff was rolling the Arkansas Gazette at 4 a.m. He started his route at 5:15 a.m. and was back home by 6:30 a.m.

“If Parrish and Mildred Robbins did not receive their newspaper by 5:30 each morning, Mildred would be calling,” Clay Goff said. The Robbins house was so close to the street that, when Leroy Goff threw the paper over the car, it would land on the porch roof.

He also had to collect the monthly subscription money from customers.“He once went to the Robbins’ home, collecting the monthly dues. He explained why he was there. Mildred Robbins told Leroy his money was up on the roof, right where the newspaper had been six times that month. She then slammed the door,” Clay Goff said.

His dad also worked at Adams Grocery on Center Street. He sacked groceries for $5 each Saturday for 13 hours a day.

Leroy Goff later began working at Dean Billingsley’s Gulf gas station on Dewitt Henry Drive, where Jordan’s Kwik Stop is now located. He worked from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week for $40 a week.

Billingsley decided to sell the gas station for $1,500. Leroy Goff, who was 16 and a junior in high school, convinced his brother to go into a partnership. They bought the business and hired their dad to work for them.

Leroy Goff bought out his brother’s share a year later. His dad worked at the store from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Leroy Goff worked there after school and until closing time.

Leroy Goff and his friend, Donnie Bolding, then bought the closed Palace Theater on East Center Street and re-opened the cinema. They rented the building from R.V. Powell for $50 a month and the equipment for $50. They rented movies at $25 for a three-day rental. The two had fliers printed and hired a projectionist for $2 a night.

Leroy Goff graduated from Beebe High School in 1961. He went to Arkansas State University in Beebe and later transferred to the University of Central Arkansas, earning a degree in history and English while working at the gas station at night and on weekends.

Leroy Goff began his teaching career at age 20. He taught at Jacksonville’s Northside Junior High School. He continued his education by earning a master’s degree in history and political science and returning to school again for a master’s degree in school administration.

Leroy Goff was Northside Junior High vice principal when he became interested in real estate after reading a book. In 1969, he took a correspondence course from the University of Arkansas. Then he passed the state broker’s exam.

Leroy Goff built his first office that summer on Dewitt Henry Drive. He partnered with Lois Famer to form Goff and Famer Real Estate and Insurance Agency. They had different ideas for the business and soon split. Leroy Goff then became the owner of Goff Real Estate and Insurance Agency.

He continued to work at the school, run the real estate office, the service station and was owner of Goff’s Tire and Battery Supply on Main Street.

Goff left his education career in 1974 and devoted his time to the real estate business.

• Clay Goff was honored as the citizen of the year. He was presented the award by his sister, Tessa.

Clay Goff serves on the White County Regional Library Board, where his knowledge in finances helped make funding the new library possible.

“He is compassionate. He has wisdom, dedication, strength, knowledge and willingness. He has a vision for the growth of Beebe. He is ready to devote those traits to fulfill that vision,” Tessa Ashley said.

“One thing you might not know about Clay. He picks up hitchhikers weekly,” she added.

Ashley said Clay Goff has a desire to help people. He sees each opportunity as a chance to witness the Lord, she noted.

Clay Goff is a Beebe High School and Ouachita Baptist University graduate. He has studied stocks since high school.

Clay Goff has a real estate license and has worked for First Security Bank for the past 15 years.

He is a member of the Beebe School Board.

Clay Goff has also served on the Beebe Chamber of Commerce and committees within First Baptist Church.

“His love is serving the public. He displays his service, through countless hours of volunteering,” Ashley noted.

• Beebe Elementary third- grade teacher Kim Cox was recognized with the Educator of the Year Award. Cox is retiring at the end of the school. She has 25 years of experience in education, 16 of those at Beebe.

“Her students truly know how much she cares. She loves all children,” Superintendent Belinda Shook said.

Shook said she never received a single complaint regarding Mrs. Cox. Parents even tried to request that their children be in Cox’s class, she noted.

“She is the ray of sunshine. You always enter the elementary and receive a hug and smile from her,” Shook said.

• Beebe High graduate Caleb Gentry was awarded with the chamber’s $500 FBLA college scholarship.

Gentry plans to attend Drury University in Springfield, Mo., major in accounting and minor in theater.

 The incoming Beebe chamber president is Karen Zaremba.

• Steve Jones, building and sites coordinator for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, spoke on the importance of businesses and communities having Southern charm.