March 6, 1930 – Dec. 6, 2017
Grant Thaxton Goodrich, 87, of Lovell, died on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, at the New Horizons Care Center. After 19½ years of separation, he has been reunited with his eternal companion and sweetheart Rhoana and a multitude of family and friends who have departed from this earthly existence.
Grant was born March 6, 1930, in Lovell, to Porter Merrill Goodrich and Eldona Thaxton. He was the third of seven children born to this union; in addition, he had four half-sisters. Grant was raised in a family that truly knew how to work and take care of each other. That work ethic strengthened them through the trial of losing their husband and father when Grant was only 14 years old. Even though education was highly valued by his mother, Grant dropped out of school his junior year in order to work full-time in an effort to help support the family. He returned in 1948 to complete his high school education.
Grant loved sports. He participated in multiple activities but found his true passion was football. During his high school career, he was selected to the all-state football team as tackle in 1948 and as end in 1949. He was also chosen to play in the Casper Turkey Bowl in 1948, an event he talked about often. Grant’s prowess on the football field qualified him for a full-ride athletic scholarship at the University of Utah, where he played end as a freshman and tackle for the following three years. During his senior year he was named all-conference tackle by the Denver Post, where he was also voted as the “Hardest Hitting Player.” The Utes won the Skyline Conference both his junior and senior years. As a sophomore, he also had the opportunity to play in Hawaii in the “Pineapple Bowl.”
While playing football, Grant also made time to attend classes, which led to earning his bachelor’s degree in general education. Upon graduation from the university, he returned to Lovell, where he taught junior high school physical education and junior high orientation from 1953-1954. At the conclusion of his first year of teaching, Grant chose to enlist in the U.S. Army.
He reported to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for basic training and was then sent to Camp Zama, Japan, where he served in special services performing various duties on the base related to recreational activities. It was here that he coached football for the U.S. Army. In 1955, Grant was named as the all-star Army tackle while playing in the Inner Service Tournament.
When his service in the Army came to a close, Grant returned to Lovell. Shortly thereafter, with the help of his brother Gary and Gary’s wife Joyce Kay, he met the love of his life, Rhoana Mills. After a whirlwind romance, they were married on July 26, 1957, in the Idaho Falls Temple. Grant accepted a teaching position at Encampment, where he taught math and science and coached multiple sports. It was that year that the couple also welcomed their first daughter, Alana, to their family.
After one year at Encampment, he returned to Lovell, teaching junior high algebra and general science and high school physical education. This was the beginning of a long and lustrous career as an educator for Big Horn County School District No. 2. For more than 34 years, he served as a coach, teacher, mentor, guidance counselor and principal. He also accepted the challenges as transportation director, activities director, student council advisor and driver’s education instructor. In the summers, he could be found caring for the outdoor swimming pool and the grounds of the high school.
His students and staff knew him as a man of integrity. He was a firm but fair disciplinarian. Anyone on the receiving end of “the hook” knew that it was warranted. It was clear that his door was always open, but as one former student said to Grant, “We knew we could come and talk to you at any time, but we always knew who was boss.” Many have been grateful for the strict but compassionate means of discipline he administered, the guidance he gave and the enjoyment he brought into their lives. He loved working with the students and staff of Lovell High School. He said he was in education at the best time and would not trade a million dollars for all of his experiences. He had a great respect for his longtime friends and colleagues with whom he had the pleasure to work.
He retired from his education career in 1991. Because he had a desire to continue his interactions with the students and staff of the school district, Grant became one of the favorite bus drivers transporting athletes and various student activity groups to a number of events and competitions. He also found great joy driving “Teddy Roosevelt” – the rough rider beet truck – for Stan Asay. During these post retirement jobs, Grant continued developing friendships and influencing the lives of so many.
Throughout his life, Grant was known to be a loving husband, father and grandfather. Over the years, Grant and Rhoana’s family grew to include four daughters, Alana, Cheryl, Janine and Jolene, and one son, John. He was incredibly proud of the accomplishments of his wife and children and spent many hours attending concerts, recitals and athletic events. He was their number one supporter and encouraged them to try new things and always do their best work.
Having Grant as dad and principal was never considered a bad thing by his children. They had the privilege of seeing their dad every day at school and came to know that he was the same person whether he was at home or at work. Through his example, he taught them integrity, compassion, fairness, hard work and the importance of having a sense of humor when facing hard things. He and Rhoana found it important to create a home that was welcoming to everyone. They wanted their children and their friends to feel comfortable there. Theirs was truly a home full of love and happiness. Family was much more than blood relations; in Grant’s mind and heart, it included neighbors, friends and community.
Grant was preceded in death by his father and mother, his four half-sisters Hazel Afton Moncur, Leah Maud Bassett, Doris Fay McKenna and Erma La Marr Caldwell and his wife Rhoana Elizabeth Mills Goodrich.
Grant is survived by siblings Vernal (Gracia) Goodrich, Donna Lee Cook, Bruce Goodrich, Gary (Joyce Kay) Goodrich, Joan Cannon and Gay Child; his children Alana (Dale) Thackeray of Lovell, Cheryl (Daniel) Allen of Colorado Springs, Colo., Janine (James) Evensen of Sheridan, John (Lisa) Goodrich of Fort Worth, Texas, and Jolene (Timothy) Donnelly of Mesa, Ariz.; 19 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lovell. Interment will follow at the Lovell Cemetery. Visitation will be from 6 until 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 15, at Haskell Funeral Home.
To send one of our special floral arrangements, please call Valley Flowers & Gifts in Lovell, 307-548-7101