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Longest Serving Phoenix City Councilmember Calvin C. Goode Dies At 93

As Phoenix’s second African American councilmember, Calvin C. Goode was elected 11 consecutive times. He served a record 22 years before retiring. Goode died Wednesday at the age of 93. Through a city spokesperson, the Goode family said Calvin C. Goode passed at 3:25 p.m. on Dec. 23, 2020, at Banner University Medical Center from a non-COVID related illness. Memorial services are pending. The family requests privacy during this time.

Early Years In Arizona

When Calvin C. Goode arrived in Arizona he couldn’t have known he would make Phoenix history. After all, he was just 10 months old when his family left Oklahoma to work the cotton fields near Gila Bend. At that time, African Americans could only attend school through the eighth grade there. So Goode moved to Prescott for high school and finished his last year in Phoenix at a segregated school. Originally called Phoenix Union Colored High School, it’s now the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

While taking an Arizona PBS Horizon crew on a tour in 2008 Goode said, “I’ve got a lot of investment in the building.” 

After graduating in 1945, Goode earned bachelors and masters degrees from Arizona State University. He returned to his former high school to work as an accountant until it closed in 1954. An alumni association bought the building from the city in1996 and for years, Goode helped raise awareness and money to renovate the historic landmark.  

“Our young people need to know the contributions that African Americans have made to this country,” he said.

Serving All People

Goode devoted his life to education. In 1967, he founded an early childhood education program in the basement of a Phoenix church. That program, for low-income families, grew into the Booker T. Washington Child Development Center where Goode served on the board until his death. 

“Never did I feel that I would get into politics,” he said. “But I’m glad I did and I did make a difference.”  

Goode was elected in 1971, two years after  Dr. Morrison Warren, the city’s first African American councilmember, termed out. 

During a 2013 appearance on a city show Goode said, “The question was raised with me why should Blacks feel that they ought to have a seat. I threw the question back at them and said, ‘Well, why should Hispanics feel that they should have a seat at the table, why do women feel?’ So I believe in diversity, I believe a government should be served by all.”  

Serving all was his motto. When Goode retired from the council in 1994, his colleague at the time, former Councilwoman Frances Barwood said:

“When I first moved here in 1980 I became active in the area and I think it was about 1984 that I had to go before the City Council on something I felt very strongly about and pleaded my case and the only one that listened to me and came to my area and looked at the problem and sided with me before the City Council was Calvin and I will never, ever forget him for that.”

Honoring Goode’s Service

To commemorate Goode’s service, the City Council named a 10-story building in his honor. The Calvin C. Goode Municipal Building is next to Cesar Chavez Memorial Plaza, directly across from City Hall. At the ceremony announcing the building’s name, then-Mayor Paul Johnson said Goode treated everyone with respect.

“Sometimes we walk with greatness and we don’t even know it,” he said. “Councilman Calvin C. Goode is someone who I would consider as being great, someone I am very proud to have walked with.” 

While on the council Goode advocated for youth programs and job training. He’s credited with moving forward an ordinance that banned workplace discrimination and pushed Phoenix to recognize a holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

Goode’s commitment to public service continued after he left the council, often working alongside his late wife, Georgie, to support nonprofits and neighborhood groups, especially the Eastlake Park neighborhood near 16th and Jefferson streets. During segregation, Eastlake Park served as a gathering place for African Americans who were generally not allowed north of Van Buren. 

In the mid-1950s, Calvin and Georgie Goode bought a home directly across from the park, a home where they celebrated 55 years of marriage and raised three sons.  

In 1994, at the Arizona Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Awards, Goode became the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. The honor is now named after Goode. The award recognizes people who’ve made Phoenix a better place to live by promoting social and economic justice, defending civil rights and enhancing the dignity of all people.

In 2020, at the age of 93, Goode appeared on stage as the award was announced. 

“Let’s continue to do the kind of thing that God wants us to do,” he told the crowd.

During a 2001 interview for the Historical League’s Arizona HistoryMakers collection, Calvin C. Goode was asked what he’d like to be remembered for. 

“Don’t talk about all the awards,” he said. “I got a lot of plaques but remember me as a person who tried to do the best thing for people.” 

Mayor Kate Gallego released the following statement on Dec. 23, 2020:

“Former Phoenix District 8 Councilmember and Vice Mayor Calvin Goode was an extraordinary man and someone I feel quite privileged to have known. His kindness and generosity were legendary, as was his commitment to Phoenix, to his brothers and sisters in the African American community, and to education. The city’s highest recognition for civil rights work is named in his honor, as is one of our buildings in the downtown city core. Yet, these few items only begin to represent the depth and breadth of the impact Mr. Goode had on Phoenix during the 22-years of service he willingly gave us.

On behalf of the City of Phoenix, I share our deepest condolences with his family. I know he looked forward to the day he would be reunited with his beloved wife Georgie. Vice Mayor, your good works will live in our hearts for generations.”

Councilwoman Thelda Williams released a statement:

"Today we lost a living legend. Calvin broke down barriers, uplifted our city and through his leadership challenged us all to do better. His statesmanship lead to an ordinance that prohibited workplace discrimination, he was instrumental in the observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and championed many programs that still touch the lives of many Phoenicians today. His legacy is all around us and Phoenix is a better place because of him.”

Councilman Sal DiCiccio issued a statement on the passing of Goode: 

"Calvin Goode was a great man who provided inspiration for all of us. He was a real leader in the city of Phoenix. Very sad to see him pass and I want to extend my deepest sympathies to his family. "

House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding released the following statement regarding the death of former Phoenix City Councilman Calvin C. Goode:

"We are all deeply saddened to hear that our community and our state has lost an icon in Calvin Goode. Mr. Goode was a soft-spoken man, but lion-hearted — an unshakeable force for progress, equality and civil rights. Over the span of six decades, he changed his city and our community for the better in countless, immeasurable ways.

Along with his beloved wife Georgie, who proceeded him to glory in 2015, the Goodes epitomized a life of selflessness and service to others. Nearly every day I drive past their home of more than 65 years across from Eastlake Park on my way to my office. It is as modest as he was, but we must remember that it is the site of so much important Arizona history. So many civil rights campaigns and political efforts that have advanced the lives of all Arizonans were launched right there by Calvin Goode and the people he inspired.

Mr. Goode remained a leader in our community all his life, long after his service on the City Council ended. I'm just one of many who sought his advice and support over the years. His question when presented with an issue or problem was always the same, "what are you going to do about it, and how can I help?" In that way he built up and inspired a legion of other leaders to carry on his work and legacy.

It is up to all of us who knew him, who loved him, or who are just learning about him, to keep that fire burning. Our caucus extends all its love and boundless respect to his extraordinary family during this difficult time."

Councilwoman Debra Stark also issued a statement:

“Phoenix has lost a great leader with the passing of Calvin C. Goode. During his 22 years on the Phoenix City Council and beyond, Goode was an advocate for youth, minorities and the entire community. His many contributions have made Phoenix better. He will be greatly missed and remembered.”

Congressman and former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called Goode the  “Conscience of the Council” in a statement:

Today we lost a civil rights icon and progressive giant, former Phoenix City Councilman Calvin Goode. Calvin spoke softly but carried with him the moral authority of having fought—and won—many civil rights battles throughout his long career. After growing up attending segregated schools, Calvin devoted his life to improving education in our community alongside his beloved late wife Georgie.

We called him the “Conscience of the Council,” and he lived up to it. I often found myself reaching out to him for guidance, and he was always there with a listening ear and thoughtful advice.

Even after his time on the Council, Calvin remained one of the most impactful leaders in the Phoenix community. He fought to protect the integrity and history of his beloved Eastlake neighborhood, and worked to ensure the Carver Museum would survive and thrive to hold African American Arizonans’ history for generations to come.

My deepest condolences go to his family during this difficult time.

Councilman Michael Nowakowski also issued a statement:

My family and I offer our deepest condolences and send our prayers to the family and loved ones of former District 8 Councilman Calvin C. Goode.

I am very saddened by his passing and remember the many times he came from his home to the Chavez Foundation to offer his advice or advocate for important topics such as head-start programs or senior centers. My brother worked for him for several years and Calvin served alongside my father on L.E.A.P. Additionally, he was on the transition team during my first campaign.

Calvin Goode was an icon in the community and in the history of the City of Phoenix. His spirit and legacy will always live on in the hearts of the lives he touched through his work.

Councilmember Carlos Garcia issued a statement on Dec. 24:

The District 8 team would like to express our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Calvin Goode. Mr. Goode is a giant in the history of Phoenix and he will be missed. He was a champion for our most impacted communities and stood against injustice.  We acknowledge and take with great responsibility that we stand on the legacy of his work, through his leadership on the Phoenix City Council and his advocacy as leader of the Eastlake neighborhood. Our office will continue to build on his legacy of equity and of fighting for the most vulnerable.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.