More than 100 people including students, staff, community members and family gathered for a tree ceremony in honor of Doug Goodman at Iowa Western Community College Thursday afternoon.
A longtime community leader, Goodman was the first Iowa Western Community College graduate to become president of the Iowa Western Community College Board of Trustees; and he was a member of Iowa West Foundation Board of Directors, founding member of the later named 712 Initiative, treasurer of Southwest Iowa Educational Foundation, and treasurer of the Henry K. Peterson Foundation — to name a few of his accomplishments.
The honey locust tree was planted beforehand, along with an engraved bronze plaque outside of the wrestling and football building. Council Bluffs Trees Forever and the college had organized the tree planting and event, but the date of the ceremony was chosen by Goodman’s wife, Deb. Thursday would have been his 63rd birthday, and it was nearly a year since his death.
Todd Maiellaro, director of the Council Bluffs Trees Forever organization, said this was one way to allow individuals to step back, reflect and remember.
“We know it’s never easy to say goodbye and we certainly know it’s harder for those closest, but we know it’s important to keep his memory alive and acknowledge what a great impact he has left on the community,” Maiellaro said.
Iowa Western Community College president Dan Kinney spoke of his memories of Doug.
“One of the things about Doug was he was a tremendous wrestling fan,” Kinney said. “When Todd called and said if Trees Forever wanted to plant a tree in honor of Doug, we thought what a better spot than here in front of this building.”
Kinney touched on Goodman’s contributions and work with Iowa Western Community College, and jokingly challenged Deb to water the tree.
At the reception Deb said she accepted Dr. Kinney’s challenge, saying she would be there “year after year with my blue Reiver watering can watering the tree just so it will thrive.”
Goodman’s longtime friend Ron Tekippe spoke next, and he had also issued a challenge — this time to the students. Tekippe spoke on how Doug had enjoyed sports including wrestling and football, but he really wanted student athletes to do well academically and graduate.
“The challenge I’m giving all of you is, make sure you get your degree,” Tekippe said. “That’s what Doug would have wanted.”
Deb continued comparing how the tree reminded her of her husband: the trees roots are deep like his commitment to Council Bluffs, the leaves rustling like Doug making rounds to speak to everyone before events and branches that reach out to hug like his smile would.
“What a wonderful tribute for someone who dedicated their life to Iowa Western, and a tree lasts forever,” Deb said. “His love for this college has come back to him many times over from honors such as today to kind words spoken to our family and many many large and small gestures from both staff and students from the college.”