Cover photo for The Reverend Dr. Gordon Goodgame, Sr.'s Obituary
The Reverend Dr. Gordon Goodgame, Sr. Profile Photo
1934 The 2021

The Reverend Dr. Gordon Goodgame, Sr.

October 8, 1934 — October 27, 2021

Lake Junaluska

The Rev. Dr. Gordon Clifton Goodgame, Sr. died October 27, 2021 at Mission Hospital, Asheville, NC surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife of 60 grace-filled years, Dianne (Fraser), three children G. Clifton Goodgame, Jr., Gregory C Goodgame (Kay Stakely), and Cathey Goodgame; grandchildren: Gordon III, Fraser, Oliver, Mae, and Nicholas.

Gordon, known to his family as "Bunkum" was born quite prematurely in Jones County, MS on October 8, 1934 and moved to Knoxville, TN in time to enter UT as a 16 year-old freshman. In Knoxville, he served many great churches and met Dianne Fraser who would love, support and encourage him for the rest of his life.

Gordon was blessed to serve in Kingston, TN, Pulaski, VA, Johnson City, Oak Ridge, and Chattanooga. After a wonderful experience with the people of the United Methodist Holston Conference, he moved to Lake Junaluska, NC. In Lake Junaluska, Bunkum and DeDe created a mountain retreat that was shared by his loving family and many friends.

Memorials may be made to the charity of your choice.

Gordon created a more in-depth version of his life story. It has been lovingly edited by members of his family and can be seen below.

Gordon Clifton Goodgame, Sr, died on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC surrounded by his family. He was preceded in death by his parents, J. Clyde and Eloise Smith Goodgame and parents-in-love William C. and Margaret Cathey Fraser. He is survived by his wife of 60 grace-filled years, Dianne, three children Clif, Greg, his wife Kay, and Cathey; grandchildren: Gordon III, Fraser, Oliver, Mae, and Nicholas.

Gordon remained forever grateful for a nuclear and extended family that blessed his life: sisters, Judy Oglesby, her husband Marvin; Carole Gieger, her husband Eddie; brother Dick Goodgame, his wife Nodene and former spouse Irene; brother-in-love W. Carson Fraser, his first wife Peggy and second wife Mary Carl, and sister-in-love Pat Turner her husband Harry; generations of nieces, nephews and cousins.

Gordon treasured a number of friends who could not have been more precious had they been blood relatives, several mentors in ministry and life, as well as other special persons who epitomized values important in life. Gordon recognized that no greater love could have been shown to him than an abundance of joy-filled laughter, unending forgiveness, patient listening to old stories, gleeful eating of pancakes and milkshakes, and, for the most enlightened, persistent support of the Vols and Lady Vols. There is now room for little else than gratitude!

Gordon was born quite prematurely in Jones County, MS on October 8, 1934, moved unwillingly from his earlier home to Knoxville in time to enter UT as a 16 year-old freshman. But, as the norm for his life, despite his immaturity and through the grace of God and many friends, mentors, and generous persons, everything worked out better than he deserved. Happy years at UT and in the Knoxville area led him to call Knoxville his “hometown” though he remained grateful for the way his earlier days helped shape and bless his life.

While a student at UTK, he was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, the student council, editor of “Strictly Business”, a cheerleader, Pep Club President, student council College of Business Pep Coordinator, and the earliest non-official “keeper of Smokey”. Always interested in starting new things, Gordon was a founding leader in the Pre-Law Society (president) and Adawayhi. He was a member of the executive committee of an early National Association of College Cheerleaders and the chapter delegate to the 1953 Sigma Phi Epsilon Conclave in Portland, OR. Off campus he was a DeMolay, active in Methodist Youth work, a playground and gym director for the Knoxville Recreation Department, and made over 250,000 mops at Knoxville Mop and Broom Works where he experienced truly beneficent employers more intent upon helping young folks finish college than in accumulating wealth.

Gordon’s early ministry was rooted in the Knoxville area. While a student at Emory, he served Church Street as Youth Director and student Asst. to the Minister, Magnolia Avenue as Associate Pastor, Clapps Chapel as pastor, and, for seven years as pastor of Epworth during one of UT’s growth booms and the height of civil rights days. Active at the YMCA in adult basketball leagues and handball tournaments, and an adjunct Asst Professor in the Tennessee School of Religion at UT, he was section leader in United Way drives, and served for ten years as Chaplain with the TennARNG, later transferring to the US Army Reserve, completing 22 years and retiring from a MobDes assignment in the Chief of Chaplains Office at the rank of LTC.

President of the Knoxville Ministerial Association in the mid-60’s, Gordon was a forming member of Citizens for Justice, and Epworth Church served as communications center for the Poor People’s March that overnighted in Knoxville on the way to Washington prior to Martin Luther King’s assassination. Although called to temporary active duty, he was allowed to participate with other church leaders in the subsequent march down Gay Street and be part of the leadership of the gathering that followed in the Civic Auditorium.

After four years in a powerfully lay-led ministry at Kingston UMC, Gordon was appointed to serve among the great people of First UMC in Pulaski, VA and then go to the Holston Conference Council on Ministries as Leader Development Consultant with primary responsibilities for Missions, Church & Society and Youth Ministry. While in Johnson City, he developed a working relationship with Lyle Schaller and joined him in seeking ways to employ creative leadership theory and practice in the service of the Church through a series of local church consultations.

Gordon returned to the Knoxville area as Sr. Pastor of Oak Ridge First UMC where he enjoyed four exciting years of significant growth in membership, attendance, and giving as an expanding faith community worked, envisioned, invited, and served. Priorities focused on Youth Ministry, Children’s Ministry, Wednesday Night Dinners as agents of communication and community, vital worship, mission giving and outreach, and pastoral care and family. These programs reflected the three themes as the hallmarks of a blessed period at First UMC: (1) the ministry of the whole people, (2) a Christ-like concern for others, and (3) a determination to pay the price to create a better future for our community and world.

In 1981, he was assigned to First-Centenary UMC in Chattanooga for nine years of fulfilling ministry that enjoyed growth through emphasis on Lay Leadership and community service. Enabled by creative lay leadership and staff as well as generous sharing, the church focused on being a faith, as well as physical, presence in the center of the city. A historic Inner-City Ministry (now called The Centenary) deepened its commitment to the needs of the downtown area for recreation, after school activities, and tutoring. Strong singles leadership proved instrumental in revitalizing a congregation and preparing the people to participate in the economic renewal of the Chattanooga area and in addressing the many needs of a great city.

A weekly TV presentation of the Sunday Morning Worship Service joined an ongoing radio ministry all staffed by lay volunteers. To address racial tensions further, Gordon helped organize a core of downtown interracial/interfaith meetings tor annual Thanksgiving and Good Friday Services. This in turn was instrumental in helping expand a Soup Kitchen feeding point, establish a Food Bank which grew under superb leadership to a powerful source of then-unimagined service. Lay leaders from First-Centenary enrolled over 300 volunteers and flowed beyond the local congregation to a cooperative program with city welfare agencies. These same leaders began “A Room at the Inn” for homeless mothers with children.

In his final decade before retirement, Gordon served as Holston Conference Council Director and as Executive Director of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Administrative Council coordinating the work of nine ministries to and with the three million United Methodist members in the nine southeastern states. Following retirement, Gordon returned to the Knoxville area as interim pastor of Middlebrook Pike UMC and Second UMC. Later, appointed interims included Cleveland First, Christ Church Chattanooga, Unicoi UMC, and State Street UMC in Bristol, VA. In 2011, he concluded 55 years of active ministry including extensive preaching and teaching, local church consultation, and mission involvement throughout the United Methodist Church and, especially with the Knoxville, Holston Conference, and Southeastern US areas.

Gordon was active on numerous conference boards and agencies within Holston and the broader church -especially those dealing with missions, social issues, race relations, women’s issues, worship, and leadership development. He was elected by his peers to six UM General Conferences and eight Jurisdictional Conferences. While either as local pastor or staff of Holston or the SEJ , he served eight years as a director of the General Board of Global Ministries that included four years as a member which included the Women’s Division [Executive Committee, United Methodist Women’s Division, Mission Education Division (Vice Chr), World Division (Finance Chair), Black Church TF], eight years as a member of the UM General Council on Ministries [Executive Committee, Chair of the Conferences and Connectional Issues Division; Vice-chair of THE ADVANCE]; 4 years as a member of the General Commission on Central Conferences, four years on the National Advisory Committee for Church and Community Workers, ten years on the World Methodist Council, and four years as a member of SEJAC prior to becoming Executive Director. He was a board member of THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER and active in numerous other regional and national organizations.

Gordon maintained a continuing commitment to higher education. His degrees and diplomas include: B.S. in Law-Business, UTK; M.Div. from Emory University; S.T.M. and S.T.D from San Francisco Theological Seminary; graduate of US Army Chaplains School and US Army Command and General Staff College, and several professional certifications. He served for five years as President of the Candler School of Theology Alumni Council, a member of the Candler’s Advisory Committee as well as the Committee on 100. In 1992, he delivered the Bishop Nolan Harmon Lecture on Practical Theology based on the interaction between the Gospel of Matthew and the Quality Leadership theory and practice of Edwards Deming. Previously that year he had been presented the annual Alumni Service/Distinguished Alumni Award. He was a Vice-President the Emory University Alumni Association, a Trustee of Hiwassee College for ten years, serving two years as Board Chair, a member of the Chancellor’s Roundtable at UTC, and served on Wesley Foundation Boards at UTK, UTC, and Radford College. Dianne and Gordon created endowments or funded scholarships at UTK, Emory University, and Jones County Junior College (MS).

Gordon preached and taught across the country, including over 70 revivals/ preaching missions in churches and on campuses, over 60 conference leadership workshops, and numerous spiritual growth retreats and events throughout his ministry.

Community Service was always a priority. In Oak Ridge, Gordon served on the Boards of Methodist Hospital in Oak Ridge, Regional Mental Health Center, and The Morgan/Scott Project. In Chattanooga, he served on the Boards of The United Way, as a founding board member of Chattanooga HOSPICE, as well as the Public School Bible Program. Since retiring, he has been part of a number of study and action committees at Lake Junaluska and chaired The Haywood County Alzheimer’s Memory Walk for three years and the Lake Junaluska Flea Market for two, while working with United Way and supporting a number of medical, food, and emergency services. He especially enjoyed his seven years on the Board of Givens Estates, a United Methodist CCRC in Asheville, NC where he was chair of the Development and Public Relations Committee and a member of the Nominations Committee. Gordon was a member of Rotary for 44 years serving in various capacities in five clubs – over 18 years registering perfect attendance in the Waynesville, NC club. Through it all, Ecumenical, and Inter-faith activities remained a priority, as did interracial and intercultural involvement.

A history bug from early days, Gordon enjoyed world travel with Dianne and has benefitted from church-related travel, military space-A opportunities, and other ventures such as a thrilling Round-the-World trip on frequent flier miles. These experiences with the world’s family melded with a growing interest in science and systems thinking to expand Gordon’s horizons and sense of what can lie ahead. Even death seemed to open new frontiers and a promising adventure with a still-creating God who remains greater than anyone can fully conceive.

A memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 28, 2021, at First United Methodist Church of Waynesville with Reverend Keith Turman and Reverend Gordon Ridenour officiating.  The family will receive friends following the service.  An inurnment will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, November 29, 2021 at Chattanooga National Cemetery, 1200 Bailey Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee.  You may access the livestream for Gordon's service on the FUMC Waynesville Youtube Channel ) The specific livestream link will be posted one week prior to the service.  Due to COVID-19, masks and social distancing will be observed.

The care of Reverend Dr. Goodgame, Sr. has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Home of Waynesville.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of The Reverend Dr. Gordon Goodgame, Sr., please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

First United Methodist Church of Waynesville

566 S Haywood St, Waynesville, NC 28786

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Visitation following service

Sunday, November 28, 2021

First United Methodist Church of Waynesville

566 S Haywood St, Waynesville, NC 28786

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Monday, November 29, 2021

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Chattanooga National Cemetery (Bailey Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee)


Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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