Educator, United Way PR director Goan dies

One of Hamblen County’s staunchest supporters has died.

Longtime educator and United Way of Hamblen County Public Relations Director Edwin C. Goan died Saturday morning following a lengthy illness. He was 74.

Goan, a Morristown native, believed in Hamblen County and spent his life supporting the community and its people.

“I’ve lost a great friend and the community has lost a great friend,” said Gary Matthews, United Way director. “He touched so many lives in the field of education and with the United Way. Everybody knew Ed. He walked in and it lit up the room.”

Goan’s neighbor, Cookie Larkin, remembered him for his gentle nature.

“He was just such a gentle soul,” she said. “I think whether you knew him when he was working with the kids in the school system or you knew him through the United Way, he loved people and he always wanted to help people.”

Goan graduated from Morristown High in 1964 receiving a bachelor’s degree from Milligan College and his master’s from Union College.

He began his education career at Hillcrest Elementary as a teacher and later became acting principal. He was assistant principal at Morristown Junior High and, in 1975, opened Lincoln Heights Middle School as its first principal where he served until his retirement in 2002.

Immediately following his retirement, he went to work for the United Way, a cause he fervently believed in.

“It’s important that you give back to your community,” he told the Tribune in 2007. “I’m convinced the United Way is the best way to help the most people.”

Matthews said he couldn’t have asked for a better employee.

“He always had the United Way at heart,” Matthews said. “This is his hometown and he wanted the best for his hometown.”

Larkin agreed.

“I think Ed was one of those souls, probably from the time he first started working, he realized he always wanted to be able to help people,” she said. “He spent so many years caring for people and just doing all he could do to support all the good things happening in Morristown.”

A past president of the Morristown A.M. Rotary Club, Goan was also an elder at First Christian Church where he served with Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain, who first met Goan as an eighth grader at Morristown Junior High.

“Through the years I’ve gotten to know him as somebody who really cares about the community and cares about people,” Brittain said. “I think his involvement with education and educators show how he cares about children while his involvement with United Way shows how much he cares about the community.”

R. Michael Fishman, editor/publisher of the Citizen Tribune and a student of Goan’s at Lincoln said over the years their relationship grew from a mentorship to a friendship.

“What started off as a lesson in discipline in 7th grade for a rambunctious boy turned into a years-long friendship in which I saw Ed as a leader in the field of education and more recently, sharing his passion to help others through his efforts with the United Way,” Fishman said. “Ed shared his unique zest for life with everyone. Morristown is a better place because of Ed Goans.”

Goan is survived by his wife of 52 years, Nancy and his son Brad and daughter-in-law Melanie.

“He was just a man who cared about his church family, cared about his family and genuinely was someone who thought of others first. It was God, family and community, those were his priorities,” Brittain said. “If I could stress anything it would be his impact on people.”

That impact was evident wherever Goan went, Matthews said. Out in town, Goan was always running into a former student or parents of a former student and would always stop for a kind word.

“He had an uncanny memory for people whether they were parents of a child or someone he’d met through United Way,” Larkin said. “I’ve seen him reunite with people who he hadn’t seen or talked to in years like they were his closest friends. He was just a very kind, a very good man. He just set a great example anywhere he went.”

For full obituary information, see page A5.