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Phoebe Jane Goodwin

October 30, 1941 until September 7, 2023

Phoebe Jane Goodwin

Phoebe Jane Woodward was born in Beaver City in the Oklahoma Panhandle on October 30, 1941 as World War 2 raged overseas. The draft board sent her family back to the farm in Ulysses, Kansas to raise hogs and a Victory Garden for the war effort. In 1944 they moved to Fairview, Oklahoma, where Phoebe grew up with her elder brother Roger and younger sister April.

Phoebe’s family enjoyed taking part in Fairview’s small-town life. They attended pancake breakfasts, homecoming parades, and football games and the children played in the street on summer evenings after dark. Phoebe began working at her family’s grocery store as a teenager. Only five feet tall, she stood on a milk crate in order to operate the National cash register. Active in many school activities, Phoebe may have been the shortest twirler to march in front of the Fairview High School band.

In 1956 a tornado took the roof off Phoebe’s family home – and yet, what Phoebe remembered most vividly was that it thankfully spared the white formal gown that hung in the closet. In 1958 she was named Miss Cinderella, Northwestern Oklahoma State University's homecoming event honoring outstanding high school girls.

Phoebe attended Oklahoma State University in Stillwater where, as a freshman, she met PhD candidate, John Goodwin. The two were married on September 4, 1960. They had four children, Thomas, Laura, Clariss, and Ashley.

Phoebe was an accomplished seamstress, housekeeper, party-thrower, and experimental cook. She was preternaturally organized. As the wife of a university president, she hosted more than her fair share of receptions. She’s the only person we know that both hosted and managed a university function while at the same time trapping and relocating feral cats. Although allergic, she was both a cat lover and a curator of fine feline iconography.

Phoebe was preceded in death by her husband John William Goodwin, her son Thomas Hatley Goodwin, her parents Ethel Dee Nelson Woodward and Roger Clifton Woodward, and son-in-law Robert Kohler.

Phoebe is survived by her brother, Roger Clifton Woodward, Junior, sister-in-law Mary Eva Heffron Woodward, and sister, April Susan Ford, all of Park Hill, Oklahoma; by her children Laura Elizabeth Goodwin, Clariss Obera Goodwin, and John Ashley Goodwin, all of Fayetteville; her grandchildren, Georgia Elizabeth Goodwin, Jacob Hatley Goodwin and their mother Dawn Gutterridge Goodwin; her granddaughter Olivia Nelson Goodwin-Harrison and her father Sean Harrison; and her grandson Owen Goodwin Kohler; as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Phoebe’s children will host a reception to meet and say hello to her many friends on Sunday, October 29, at the Lodge at Butterfield Trail Village in Fayetteville, Arkansas, at 2:30 in the afternoon. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests honoring one of her favorite non-profits, Theatre Squared (, Symphony Orchestra of Northwest Arkansas (, or Emily’s List (

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