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Longtime Kingsport educator Barbara Goodlett dies

Rick Wagner • May 31, 2013 at 2:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Veteran educator, former city school board member and author Barbara Goodlett died Thursday.

“We were friends for over 70 years,” Alex Anderson of Kingsport said. “I have a picture from my fourth birthday party, and she’s in it. Her father and my father were lifelong friends. She just was a powerful force personally in our community and in our church and in the school system.”

Goodlett was an English teacher and later vice principal at Dobyns-Bennett High School. After retirement from the school system, she served on the Kingsport Board of Education. She also wrote two books, and her articles appeared in magazines and other publications.

According to an obituary from Hamblett-Dobson Funeral Home, a memorial service will be conducted 2 p.m. Saturday at First Broad Street United Methodist Church, where she taught Sunday school and was a lifelong member. Following the service, the family will receive friends in the church parlor. A family burial service will be held in Oak Hill Memorial Park.

According to information from the school system, Goodlett was an English teacher at D-B from 1969 to 1982, Kingsport City Schools community relations director in 1982-83 and assistant D-B principal from 1983 to 1989.

She served on the BOE as president from July 1999 to June 2003 and was re-elected to a second term in May 2003.

“I had the privilege of having Barbara as a teacher at Dobyns-Bennett and also had the opportunity to serve with her on the Kingsport Board of Education,” BOE President Randall Montgomery said Thursday. “She was not only a great asset to children of Kingsport but to the community as a whole.”

Goodlett resigned from the BOE in January 2004 because of personal reasons with two years remaining on her term.

“When she resigned they (Board of Mayor and Aldermen members) appointed me,” said Wally Boyd, a former BOE member and former board president.

“She was always a friend to me,” Boyd said. “She was always gracious to help.”

As a child, Barbara attended Robert E. Lee School, Washington Grammar School, John Sevier Junior High School and D-B, graduating in 1954. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East Tennessee State University and was an adjunct professor there in 1991 and 1992.

“She was one of the most outgoing, energetic and enthusiastic, persons I ever knew. She was a cheerleader in high school and that sort of spirit carried into her very being all of her life. She had her ups and downs and struggles in her life, but she handled them so well and courageously and with a wonderful spirit. You felt like you were better person by being in her presence,” said Lois Dobyns, a long-time friend. “Barbara added so much to this community, as a teacher, a minister in the church for other people. ... What a wonderful presence she was in the lives of the people who knew her. She will be missed. She is one of the people who will really be missed.”

Goodlett’s book “Twenty Three Valentines from Marsha” was published worldwide by Reader’s Digest Association. It was about her daughter, Marsha Toomey, who was born in 1963 and died of cancer in 1986. Goodlett’s writings also have appeared in Good Housekeeping, Guideposts, Plus and the Upper Room. She also wrote a book about early Kingsport, “A Quarter’s Worth of Love.”

In an Oct. 11, 2010 Kingsport Times-News article about a lecture Goodlett was about to give to the Kingsport Public Library’s Friends of the Archives on “Kingsport Yesterday,” Goodlett said she spent a lot of time downtown growing up because her father worked 55 years in retailing downtown, starting in 1925 at the Big Store, which became the J. Fred Johnson Co. department store.

“When I was little, I was at J. Fred Johnson Co. with him all the time,” Goodlett said. “My background is downtown. I’ve been here all my life. Worked in education. Kingsport is just more than my home.”

Goodlett at the time of the lecture served as a member of the Kingsport Library Commission and as a liaison to the Friends of the Archives Board.

She has served on boards for Volunteer Kingsport, Girl’s Inc., Goodwill Industries and The Literacy Council and was a former president of the Kingsport Book Club and a former member of the Kingsport Junior League.

A video of a Goodlett presentation called “Broad Street, from Church Circle to the Train Station, 1940s-1970s” is viewable at http://kingsportarchives.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/barbara-goodletts-presentation-broad-street-from-church-circle-to-the-train-station-1940s-1970s/.

Features editor Becky Whitlock and staff writer Leigh Ann Laube contributed to this article.

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