Arthur Boyd “A.B.” Goddard, an attorney who practiced law for 62 years in Blount County — including years with his brother, Houston, and son, Rob — died Monday in the town he loved, Maryville. He was 92.
He was born in 1925 to Alice Belle Pickens and Homer Andrew Goddard. Goddard graduated from Maryville High School and also the University of Tennessee, where he earned both his undergraduate and law degrees.
He lived his entire life in Blount County with the exception of the four years he spent defending his country as a member of the U.S. Navy during World War II, stationed in the South Pacific.
He and his wife, Eula Gray Fortner Goddard, were married for 67 years. In addition to Eula, son Rob and his family, Goddard is survived by his daughter, Melissa Bernhardt, and hers.
A private, family graveside service will be held at Grandview Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, July 2, at First United Methodist Church, Maryville. Catherine Nance will officiate. The family will receive friends and celebrate Goddard’s life with a reception in the church’s fellowship hall following the service.
One of Bernhardt’s fondest memories is of her father sitting with her on her grandmother’s porch.
“My dad taught me how to count the time between lightning and thunder in order to tell how far away there was a thunderstorm,” she said. “He was in the Navy and they used that to know about storms.”
She also recalled that her dad and his brother shared a car as they commuted to the law office each day. They also used that car to transport Bernhardt, her brother and their four cousins to school each day.
“My dad and my uncle drove all six of us Goddard cousins to school,” she said. “All six of us plus dad plus Houston in that car. It was a sedan and we had a trombone, trumpet and two flutes. When they opened the door, we just fell out.”
That he loved to cook and could spin a tale — those are the things Bernhardt said she will always remember about her dad. She and others who knew him would say he was a great storyteller.
“He loved to use big words and put them together,” Bernhardt said. “He loved poetry. He loved words.”
Rob Goddard, 64, has followed in his dad’s footsteps, becoming a lawyer and also laying down roots in the community. He is third-generation Goddard lawyer at Goddard and Gamble; A.B.’s dad, Homer Andrew, started the firm in the early 1900s.
It was hard for A.B. to retire, his son said. He was 89 when he gave up his practice. Rob worked alongside him for 38 years. He described his dad as passionate about the work he did for his clients and believed everybody was entitled to quality representation, Rob said.
“He felt like he could do that,” he said.
During his 62 years, A.B. provided his services for free many times, Rob said.
It’s a given that Rob used his dad as teacher as they worked together. He said he will never forget what A.B. told him as he went off to law school.
“I asked him what his advice was and he said for me to go over there and do the best I can and then come back and he would teach me how to practice law,” Rob said. “And he did.”
In addition to his law practice, A.B. served his community in various capacities over many decades. He was chairman of the board for Bank of Maryville, chairman of the Blount County Republican Party and on the board of trustees of the Holston Conference Colleges.
At 92, A.B.’s health had declined over the past couple of months. His daughter and son both said he was a self-reliant, do-it-yourself man who didn’t want to be a bother to anyone.
“He said everybody has to row their own boat,” Rob said.
Love of his community, his family, a good story and his vocation all were evident by those who knew him well. Joe Dawson, former administrator at Blount Memorial Hospital, saw that, too, but also his dedication to BMH as its counsel. Dawson and A.B. both started in those positions on Jan. 1, 1985. Both served BMH for 26 years.
But, Dawson said he didn’t think of A.B. as simply a business associate. The two became good friends; Dawson said A.B. was someone he respected and counted on in so many situations.
“I could always count on him telling me what I needed to be told,” Dawson said. “If he thought I had a good idea he would tell me I had a good idea. If he thought I had a dumb idea, he told me I had a dumb idea. I got the straight answer that I needed.”
A.B. apparently had a pat response any time Dawson got off track.
“He would say, ‘Well, you go right ahead. I’ll be glad to defend you,’” Dawson said.
Dawson is retired. He said he counts himself very fortunate to have been a colleague and friend to A.B He was able to visit A.B. before he died.
“We are lucky in our lifetimes if we have some special folks that we learn to lean on and depend on, admire and respect,” Dawson said. “A.B. is one of them. I miss him already.”