At a public viewing in Phoenix, the city Calvin Goode served a record 22 years and loved for a lifetime, the late councilman was commemorated Saturday.

In front of the building that bears his name near 3rd Avenue and Washington Street, Goode laid in a powder blue casket lined in bouquets of navy and white roses. Those who came to honor Goode called him legendary, unrelenting, all-consuming, inspiring and “the best kind of person God has to offer.”

Goode died from a non-COVID-19 related illness on Dec. 23. In the two decades he served on the Phoenix City Council, only the second African American to do so, he worked to improve impoverished areas of the city, support disadvantaged youths and fight discrimination.

SEE: Phoenix civil rights icon and 2nd Black Councilmember Calvin Goode dies at 93

He was elected to the council in 1971and represented southeast Phoenix and Ahwatukee Foothills. Goode lost a bid to become mayor in 1990 and retired from the council in January 1994. 

However, those who knew him emphasized Saturday that his service didn't stop when formal titles were stripped away. 

'Owe him a personal debt'

U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton attended Saturday’s outdoor, socially distanced viewing and said although Goode had been away from the job for almost 30 years when he passed, he "never once" stopped advocating for the city.

“I never got the chance to work with him as an elected official, but I got the chance to serve for him as a citizen. Even after he was off the city council, he was one of the most effective community leaders,” said Stanton, a former Phoenix mayor. “Calvin Goode was never absent.”

Calvin Goode's loved ones pay their respect at his outdoor, socially distanced viewing at Calvin C. Goode Municipal Building in Phoenix on Jan. 9, 2021.

Among Goode’s list of accomplishments, Stanton noted he “never stopped fighting to protect the character of his neighborhood.”

Goode was a proud resident of the Eastlake Park neighborhood near 16th and Jefferson Streets since 1955. The area, impacted by housing segregation, was integral to Phoenix’s civil rights movement.

In addition, Stanton said Goode leaves behind “passion projects,” such as the creation of the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, which honors the history, art and culture of African Americans. The museum sits in place of his alma mater, the old Carver High School, the city's first African American high school. The campus closed in 1954. Goode also led the efforts to ensure Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed in Phoenix, Stanton said. 

According to Stanton, neither would exist without Goode’s “consistent advocacy.”

“The most effective and powerful leaders are sometimes the quietest people,” Stanton said. “For all the years I had the chance to be in a room with him, he never raised his voice once. But yet, when he spoke, you paid attention. He got stuff done because people knew what he had to say was important or he wouldn’t be saying it.”

Goode endorsed Stanton when he ran for mayor in 2012. Stanton won and served as mayor for six years, adding Goode’s “role in getting me there was tremendously impactful.”

“I owe him a personal debt of gratitude for supporting me,” Stanton said.

'He did it the right way'

As friends of the Goode family, Karl and Carla Gentles also attended the viewing. Karl said Goode embodied the way "good public service should be done."

“He did it the right way; 'the Goode way,' as he would say,” Karl said. “He built a good foundation for Phoenix to become a vibrant, growing city and a place that included everyone. Calvin worked for the common person, not whoever had the most to offer.”

According to Carla, Goode cast a “tremendous shadow” over Phoenix that she hopes the city’s current and future leaders will continue to learn from.

“He had really tall and broad shoulders that enabled many others to come after him and move the ball forward and I think that is as much as anyone could hope to gain from one lifetime,” Carla said. "I hope his example is not lost, but rather cherished."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, where so many have been unable to honor their loved ones in public settings, Carla said she is grateful the city and Goode's family came up with a way to let people gather safely on Goode’s behalf.

“When you work in public service, it is a sacrifice to lend your loved ones to be at the disposal of others. I think for (Goode’s family) to not try and hold it close to themselves and instead, give him back to the city and give everybody else an opportunity to honor him is a testament to how loved he was,” Carla said.

Georgie and Calvin Goode, 'together at last'

Clara Warrick, also known as “The Blues Diva,” said she was invited to sing at a service for Georgia "Georgie" Goode, Calvin’s wife, who died in 2015 at the age of 87.

Warrick said the couple were “great friends” to her and “it only made sense” she come on Saturday to honor “Georgie’s other half.”

“It was impossible for me not to come to celebrate his homegoing as well,” Warrick said. “We are all blessed to have known him, personally or not. To have shared moments with him and his wife was the honor of my life.”

Georgie was a longtime Phoenix educator and community activist. She served on the boards of the Phoenix Elementary School District and the Phoenix Union High School District and was an elementary school teacher in the Roosevelt School District. Georgie also played a key role in establishing the Carver Museum’s library.

Georgie and Calvin Goode leave behind three sons: Vernon, Jerald and Randolph.

“Georgie and Calvin were the best of friends,” Warrick said. “As much as I will miss their joyous spirits, I feel comforted to know they are home together, at last."

Reach the reporter Jamie Landers at Follow her on Twitter @jamielanderstv