Don Goff was passionate about the South Suburbs.
“It was kind of a family joke, that they were our South Suburbs,” his son, Ken. said.
“Passion” is a word that comes up repeatedly in conversations about Mr. Goff, of Homewood, who died Aug. 22 at the age of 85.
“He had a passion for serving,” his son said.
Edward Paesel, the executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, said Mr. Goff was passionate about economic development in the region, and bringing together towns and organizations so that jobs and prosperity would come to the area.
“In the 1990s, he helped found the Chicago Southland Alliance, which was the springboard for all future regional economic development efforts in the South Suburbs,” Paesel said. “It set the stage for cooperation between organizations in our area.”
Mr. Goff’s resume of service goes back more than 60 years. He sang in church choirs for 70 years and was active at Living Springs Community Church in Glenwood — which he helped found in 2002 — until his death. He was a village trustee in Homewood from 1988 to 1997. He was board chairman of NewStar Services in Chicago Heights, which assists persons with intellectual disabilities, and was executive director of the South Suburban College Foundation for five years.
Donald Max Goff was born in Chicago on March 11, 1931. He received bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois. He served in the United State Army’s 1st Division. After a career at Illinois Bell, he retired as district manager in 1992.
Over the years, Mr. Goff was also past chairman of the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Third Airport Alliance, chairman and founding member of Chicago Southland Regional Economic Development Coordinating Council and founding member of the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“He was a big man with a deep voice,” said Paesel, adding he was proud to call Mr. Goff a close friend for more than 20 years. “When he spoke, people listened.”
Allen Jongsma, the director of ministries and administration at Living Springs Church, said Mr. Goff “knew everybody.”
“He was reliable and dependable,” Jongsma said. “When he said he would do something, you knew it would get done.”
The list goes on. Mr. Goff was president of Homewood Baseball, Inc., where he managed and coached for 17 years. He was chairman of the Homewood’s Community Relations Commission for many years. He was an Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra board member. He was a project manager for the Executive Service Corps in Chicago. He was director of the First National Bank in Chicago Heights and president of both the United Way and Rotary in that city. He was a member of the South Holland Master Chorale.
Mr. Goff was also a dedicated family man. He was married to his wife, Joyce, for 60 years. They are the parents of three sons and two daughters and grandparents of 10 children.
Ken Goff — who is now president of Flossmoor Baseball and Softball — said his father passed along the importance of service to his children.
“His goal was to get involved, to give back to the community,” he said. “That was something he instilled in me.”
Jongsma said Mr. Goff was an elder at Living Springs and was active in ministries dealing with music, communion, welcoming and the crew that is responsible for putting up and taking down chairs in the church’s gymnasium.
Mr. Goff took part in church activities until a few weeks ago, Jongsma said.
“He was scheduled to do interviews for new members,” he said. “Because of his health, I asked him if he wanted someone else to do them. But he insisted on doing them. That was three weeks ago.”
Living Springs will host a Celebration of Life Service for Mr. Goff at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at the church, 19051 Halsted St., Glenwood. Following the service, Mr. Goff’s family will receive friends from 5 to 9:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to NewStar Services, 1005 West End Ave., Chicago Heights; the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, 17 N. State St., Suite 650, Chicago; or the South Suburban Humane Society, 1103 West End Ave., Chicago Heights.