A crowd of around 50 people gathered at the Williams City Pool on Saturday morning to honor the late Wes Goforth on what would have been his 56th birthday.
Friends, family and former coworkers were on hand to witness the unveiling of an honorary plaque bearing Goforth’s name.
“What a great turnout,” City Administrator Frank Kennedy said to Mayor John Troughton following the ceremony. “I’d say that there were between 50 and 55 people.”
Prior to the unveiling of the plaque, a number of community members and local public figures spoke about Goforth,
After the remembrances and the unveiling, Goforth’s wife, Kimberly, addressed the crowd and invited them to over to her house for a celebration in remembrance of Wes.
“I’d like to thank everyone,” Goforth’s widow, Kimberly Goforth said. “You’re family. You’re all family.”
Family: that was a theme consistent throughout Wes Goforth’s life, evinced by the words of remembrance spoken on Saturday and summarized so powerfully and succinctly by Kimberly Goforth.
It was something touched upon by Peter Garcia, who worked with Goforth from 2005 to 2013, when the latter retired.
“When Wes started on with the city, he was hired on as a maintenance worker… When the public works director at that time became ill and could no longer work, the city came to the crew and asked who wanted to fill the job. I guess Wes drew the short straw,” Garcia joked.
“This was probably the best choice the city could have made, because where most managers attempt to command respect, Wes had earned that respect by treating everyone he met like family… I had the opportunity to work with Wes for about eight years, and during that time, he was not only a good boss but was a great friend and family member.”
Most of the City of Williams was family to Goforth. Between his years in the public works department and his time spent volunteering as a firefighter, it was an “extended family” that Goforth dedicated countless hours to.
“I was overwhelmed and so impressed by how bright he was and how much he knew about every intricate thing that went on in this city,” former city council member Pat Ash said. “He had so much to contribute, and I’m blessed that I’m a part of his life.”
And, Garcia and Troughton both noted, it’s a family who could always count on Goforth to furnish a smile, no matter how ill or down he may have felt himself.
“Just like the swimming pool put so many smiles on people’s faces, I think so did Wes, and that’s what makes the dedication of this pool to him perfect,” Garcia said.
“One thing I always remember about Wes is that even when he was hurting and things were not going his way, he would always smile at you, and make light of something or somebody,” Troughton said. “He never let on that he felt as bad as he felt.”
The dedication was also fitting because of the ties of Goforth’s actual family to the facility, Troughton noted. Goforth’s grandfather and great uncle were largely responsible for the construction of the Williams City Pool in the 1950’s.
“This is a proper thing to do for the swimming pool, because of not just of Wes’s heritage, and his work, but the Goforth Brothers and the Goforth family and the work they did to get water in that hole right there,” Troughton said.
Goforth’s father, Dave, said his son’s own contributions to the pool were noteworthy in their own right.
“As his father, why, I watched him in the springtime — I’d go looking for him on a Saturday and I’d always find him out here, donating his time. Him, and Bill and Petey and a number of the other guys on the crew,” Dave Goforth said. “I was always impressed how dedicated they were to make sure this pool would get open when budget money didn’t last long enough. They made sure this pool was open for those kids. That’s always been a feather in his cap, as far as I’m concerned.”
Wes Goforth’s aunt, Jane Christy, thanked the city for recognizing her family. She also expressed her gratitude for the work her brother and his staff put into keeping the pool alive for the citizens of Williams.
“I am so thankful, so touched and grateful that the city is doing this,” Christy said.