Goodmans to speak at AFES community event

They share a last name and a love for sports, but nothing necessarily had to tie Bill and Tom Goodman together in a friendship that’s now lasted over six decades.

Instead of keeping their distance because of differences in background or skin color, an early bond developed from their similarities – a passion for Fort Dodge Dodger athletics, and a willingness to look beyond surface issues that could have very easily divided them once their playing days were over.

The 1965 FDSH alumni will serve as co-guest speakers at the AFES Martin Luther King Recreation Center in Fort Dodge on Saturday, in an event organizer Charles Clayton is calling “A Night With Two Good Men.” Doors open at 4 p.m.

“Of course, having two Fort Dodge icons under the same roof to talk to our community and young people is big,” Clayton said. “They were not only accomplished athletes (as Dodgers), but they have been successful in the real world and as family men.

“More importantly, here are two guys from two completely different racial and economic backgrounds who have remained friends and looked beyond the stuff that tends to divide us in our society, even to this day. The racial component to their friendship is that there hasn’t been one at all. And that’s a message everyone needs to hear.”

Bill Goodman was a decorated four-sport athlete who earned varsity 11 letters while at FDSH. The former all-state fullback and minor league baseball player was inducted into the Dodger Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.

Tom Goodman, also a Fort Dodge Hall of Famer, was a two-time all-state basketball star who played at Iowa State University. His Hall of Fame coaching career included leading the Dodgers to their last boys state hoop title in 1988.

Bill and Tom first met as middle schoolers in the late-1950s. Bill was one of just two African-American students in the 449-member FDSH graduating class of ’65.

Despite their different backgrounds, Bill became close friends with Tom, as well as former teammates and current Fort Dodgers Tom Bice and Fred Moeller.

“It couldn’t have been easy,” Clayton said of their relationships. “Given that period of time and (lack of diversity) in their class, I’m sure it was tough for Billy and their friendships were often tested. But that’s what I want (the audience) to hear: how they got past it and became brothers not just in high school, but beyond.

“Their lives again took them in different directions (after graduation), yet not only did they stay in touch, but remained close and are still close to this day. That’s a story worth telling.”

The event is open to the public, with free-will donation supporting AFES.