BOBBY DEAN GOFF
Bobby Dean Goff was born on August 1, 1932, in Shreveport, Louisiana. At the age of three days he was adopted by Josephine and Everett Goff, who resided in the White Oak community between Longview and Gladewater. Bobby was raised in a loving, but very disciplined home in the East Texas Oil Field, and attended White Oak Schools for twelve years. He was a trombone player in the band when Roy Swicegood began his tenure there as band director. In later years, Swicegood would be a major influence on Bobby’s teaching career.
As a youngster, Bobby’s first love was horses. He enjoyed horseback riding, grooming horses, and also breaking them in. A tragic accident in 1947 changed his life. He was struck by a car while crossing US Highway 80, a short distance from the family residence. The accident resulted in internal injuries and a compound fracture of his left leg. Unable to continue his athletic and horse riding activities, his attention turned to his band instrument and became his priority. Although the accident left him in constant pain, he worked harder than ever to be a contributing member of the White Oak High School band, volunteering ahead of others to load and unload instruments at trip time. Bobby did not enjoy the school classroom and struggled in other subject areas. He was the perfect example of one who would not have made it through school were it not for his participation in the band program.
Following one year of study at Kilgore Junior College as a Business Major, and a brief bank employment, Bobby entered Stephen F. Austin State College as a music education major. His parents could not afford an education away from home, so Bobby worked at several jobs, including washing dishes in the college cafeteria, to pay his own way. After completing his Bachelor’s Degree, he taught one semester at Garrison High School, near Nacogdoches. During the semester he became so discouraged with his lack of success that the superintendent counseled him into finishing the term and continuing his dream of being a band director. Following one year at Jefferson High School, Bobby taught at Timpson High School from 1955-1965. During the ten years, he led the band to five consecutive sweepstakes awards. The Timpson Band performed at the Tri-State Band Festival in Enid, Oklahoma and won first place in a UT Austin “Band Day” Parade to earn a pre-game performance at Texas Longhorn football game.
In 1965 Bobby married a former Timpson band student, Elizabeth Witherspoon, and they moved to New Boston, where Bobby taught for seven years. He led the band to six consecutive sweepstakes awards, and other performances in the Cotton Carnival Parade in Memphis, Tenn., the Fiesta of Five Flags Competition in Pensacola, Fla., and the opening of the Hemisfair in San Antonio.
With the declining health of his parents in 1972, Bobby, Elizabeth, and newly adopted son, Joe, returned to the Longview area to care for them. He began teaching at Hallsville High School, remaining there until his retirement in 1990. His work again led the Hallsville Band to many sweepstakes awards and numerous other honors. The band performed at DisneyWorld, Orlando, Fla., at the Fiesta of Flowers in Canyon City, Colorado, and won the outstanding band award at the Worlds of Fun Festival in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1983. Students in all of his bands won many All-Region, All-State, and UIL Solo/Ensemble performance awards.
After his retirement in 1990, Bobby taught part time for three years at Leverett’s Chapel ISD – rebuilding a band program that had been dormant for many years. He also assisted head directors at Overton and New Diana High Schools.
During his long teaching career, Bobby continued giving his best in spite of the constant pain and discomfort from the accident in 1947. He learned much about teaching by watching and listening to other directors in rehearsals and performances. Blanton McDonald, Jimmie Hudgins, Alto Tatum, and Roy Swicegood were major influences on his success in the earlier years. Later sources and inspirations were Neil Grant, a former Timpson student, and Pete Kunkel, a high school and college mate, and lifetime friend. Once he discovered the correct way for him to be successful teaching students, nothing could deter him. He believed in what he was doing, and was a relentless taskmaster in the rehearsal until each part was played to his satisfaction.
During his forty-five years as a Texas band director, Bobby was a member of TMEA, TBA, TMAA, and Phi Beta Mu. In 1996 he was inducted into the Stephen F. Austin State University Bandmasters Hall of Fame.
Friends, former colleagues and associates continue to remember the great qualities that Bobby possessed. He spent much of his time doing favors for friends and acquaintances. Many times, those on vacation trips would return home to find their yards mowed and trimmed. He left his own projects unfinished to help others with theirs. Elizabeth tells of the many days that he would return from school with pockets empty after giving students money for various needs. He was the teacher that continued working to keep the “at risk” students in school, after all others had given up on them. Many times the band was what kept them in school, as it had for him at White Oak. As his health declined to his confinement at home, he was a constant encourager to the young teachers who were just starting their careers. He would call after their rehearsals, inquiring about the rehearsal and making suggestions for the next.
Bobby’s humor and wit were quickly discovered by everyone that he met. He always had a funny story and demanded everyone’s attention for it to be heard. No gathering of East Texas band directors occurs without his presence and influence being felt.
Bobby Goff passed away on March 16, 2001, at his residence in Longview. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, and one son, Joe Goff – both of Longview.