Military Leader and Higher Education
The life of Lt. Colonel Jeff Goodin is one filled with achievement. Dominant threads in the tapestry of his life are faith, family, duty, honor and patriotism.
A native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Jeff grew up in Peru and then Panama. At 16, his family returned to Las Cruces where he completed high school, participating in football, baseball and golf.
Jeff Goodin came into prominence when he won the New Mexico Amateur Golf Championship. With scholarship options in football and golf, Jeff chose golf and began what would be a long and multi-faceted relationship with Hardin-Simmons University. In addition to golf, he enrolled in the Army ROTC program which led to a distinguished military career that would take him around the globe.
While at HSU, Jeff Goodin met Marilyn Searcy, the love of his life, whom he later married. Together they raised three beautiful daughters and were blessed with six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
After graduating from HSU with his B.B.A., Jeff entered the Army as a commissioned officer. Lt. Colonel Goodin served two decades in a wide variety of training locations and infantry assignments, culminating his career as a helicopter pilot and aviation commander. His assignments took him to five states and three foreign countries. Lt. Colonel Goodin served two combat tours in Vietnam, logging more than 1,500 combat flying hours as an attack helicopter pilot and survived being shot down four times.
While still in the Army, Lt. Colonel Goodin returned to HSU in 1975 as a member of the ROTC staff. He also coached the HSU golf team that season and continued his academic preparation by earning a master’s degree in education.
He returned to the Panama Canal Zone in 1978 as commander of the 210th Aviation Battalion. This was during the time when control of the Panama Canal was turned over to the Panamanian government, causing Lt. Colonel Goodin to interact closely with the late Gen. Manuel Noriega.
In 1980, Lt. Colonel Goodin retired from the U.S. Army ending his courageous and dedicated service to his nation. The Lt. Colonel was an Army Ranger, paratrooper and Master Army Aviator. He was also a highly decorated war hero, awarded the Silver Star, Soldier’s Medal, Army Commendation Medal for Valor, Vietnam Cross for Gallantry with Gold Star, twice receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal for Valor, and Army Commendation Medal, along with three Bronze Stars. For injuries sustained in the line of duty, Lt. Colonel Goodin was also recommended for the Purple Heart three times, but he refused each time.
After the Army, the Goodins settled in Abilene to continue raising their three daughters. Throughout the years, Jeff has been an active leader in the Abilene community, serving in leadership with HSU, Abilene Country Club, Kiwanis Club of Abilene, Abilene Zoological Society, and First Baptist Church of Abilene. For nearly 10 years, he managed a local business, United Oil and Grease, before being persuaded to return to HSU, this time as Assistant Athletic Director and Head Coach of the men’s and women’s golf teams.
In his years coaching golf, the women’s teams competed in nine national championships, finishing in the top ten each year. They won the NAIA National Championship in 1994 and placed second in 1995, in addition to placing third in the NCAA Division III Championship and winning all but one ASC championship. The men’s teams qualified for seven national tournaments, finishing fourth in 1991 and third in 1992, along with winning every ASC championship. Thirty-four of Coach Goodin’s players were named to All-American teams and he was named District 8 NAIA Coach of the Year twice, NCAA South Regional Coach of the Year five times, NAIA Coach of the Year in 1994 and NCAA Division III Coach of the Year in 1998. After retiring from coaching in 2000, he was inducted into the HSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Jeff’s beloved wife, Marilyn, suffered a severe stroke. During her long and challenging recovery, Jeff demonstrated exemplary and loving devotion and was a constant source of encouragement and support until her passing.
For his selfless and courageous service to our nation, and his remarkable accomplishments in business, higher education and athletics, Hardin-Simmons proudly inducts Lt. Colonel Jeff Goodin into the HSU Hall of Leaders.