Goodes reunite for 41st time

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 18, 2002

Over 80 descendents of the late Rufus and Viola Goode from Suffolk celebrated their 41st consecutive reunion Aug. 9-11 in the Holiday Inn. The Goode family gatherings have always been held the second weekend in August, and in the past some of them have been held in Texas, Atlanta, Orlando, and last year it was in Syracuse, N.Y.

The branches of this family’s tree extend four generations in Suffolk where Rufus Goode was a bricklayer married to Viola. They had 10 children but one died in childbirth. However, Viola settled down to rear the nine surviving children.

There are five surviving siblings that include brothers from the oldest to the youngest – Ernest Goode Sr., James Goode, Rufus Goode, and the Rev. Howard Goode, and sister, Ethel Goode Ingram. Deceased siblings are George Goode, William Goode, Viola Chisholm, and Gladys Riddick.

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The idea of having a gathering every year originated when family members from various states attended the funeral of Rufus Sr. who died in 1960. They had such a good time seeing each other that they were determined not to limit get-togethers to sad occasions. The following year they held the first reunion.

&uot;Each year it gets better and better,&uot; said Ernest Sr. of Suffolk. &uot;We enjoy doing this because we have a lot of family and friends of the family whom we enjoy and they enjoy us. We also have a good attendance no matter where we celebrate. I don’t know where we will be next year but after we leave church on Sunday, we will hold a family meeting and make a decision at that time.&uot;

Goode also said that it is not fair to hold a reunion in one place every year, but to have them in different locations in order to give other families an opportunity to celebrate at home.

According to Laverne Nicholson, the daughter of Ernest, this year they tried not to schedule too many activities so as to allow family members to spend time with lifelong friends since most of them are very connected to Suffolk. &uot;The main thing we want to stress is that we are still going strong after 41 years,&uot; Nicholson said.

On Friday, the program included a registration and social hour. A banquet was held Saturday with Angela Goode, daughter of Ernest, serving as mistress of ceremonies. Others on the program were the Rev. Howard Goode, grace and remarks; Ernest Goode Jr. directed the families and gave remarks; Betty Whitney, poem; Bud Davis, solo; and sisters, Cathy Goode Worth, Linda Goode Cummings and Connice Goode Pierce performed; James and Louise Goode sang a duet; Melissa, the granddaughter of James Goode, and her 4-year-old daughter performed a duet; and Gwen Chrisholm Sargeant read a poem written by her in the 1960s entitled &uot;Family Reunion.&uot;

Each person present was also introduced to the audience by the head of each family.

On Sunday, the family worshipped at Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church on Pine Street. From generation to generation, strong religious convictions have always been a part of the Goode families. Naturally, many members are religious singers, musicians and preachers. A large portion of the Goode clan served as the choir, and the Rev. Charles L. Harvin Sr., gave the Rev. Howard Goode the courtesy of delivering the morning sermon.

After worship, family members held a meeting. The result was that next year the reunion will be held again in Syracuse, and in 2004 it will be held in some town in New England.