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Family will receive friends on Tuesday, January 23, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. until time of service at 12:00 p.m. at St. Phillip Lutheran Church, 1506 E. Long Street, Columbus, OH 43203. Interment: Glen Rest Memorial Estates.
Bessie "Bess" Garner Johnson Goode
1930 – 2024
Bess Goode was born on November 29, 1930, in Union Springs Alabama to Bertha Duncan Garner, a member of the Cherokee Nation (mother) and Jim Garner (father). After the death of her mother at the age of 5, loving relatives became the guardians for Bess and her sister Jannie and they moved to Columbus, Georgia. Bess graduated from Spencer High School with honors and attended Albany State College in Albany, Georgia. She married her high school sweetheart, Robert L. Johnson, an airman stationed at Wright-Patterson United States Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
Robert L. and Bess became parents of 3 sons, Robert, Michael, and Mark. She worked alongside her husband in building a successful real estate business, Johnson United, Inc., in Columbus, Ohio. The Johnson family was well known in the community and were lovingly called BBB5 – Bob, Bess, and Boys. In 1958 the family found their spiritual home at St Philips Lutheran Church, where Bess continued to worship and serve until her death.
Despite the demands of motherhood and working with the family business, Bess went on to further her education, attending classes at Capital University. Her first professional job, Executive Secretary for the owner of Gilbert’s Shoe Store, was just the beginning of an exemplary career. She later became the Director of the Columbus Youth Civic Center. A federally funded program that flourished under her leadership. Stokley Carmicheal and Senator Robert Kennedy visited the Columbus facility, which became a national model for youth centers. Bess continued to be a trailblazer, becoming the first Equal Opportunity Officer for the Ohio State Treasury Department, where she championed employment opportunities for women and minorities. Her abilities did not go unrecognized, and in 1971, Gertrude W. Donahey, Ohio State Treasurer, appointed Bess Goode Director of Personnel, the first African American to serve in this capacity.
Bess was active in civic and community affairs, serving on the Board of Directors for the Lutheran Social Services Organization and working with the Columbus Urban League, and NAACP. She held various positions within her social clubs, including the Columbus Chapter of Charms, Inc. and her investment clubs. She was recognized by numerous organizations for outstanding political and community service, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Ohio House of Representative, Ohio State Senate, Metropolitan Democratic Women’s Club and the Capital City Booster Club.
Bess Garner Johnson Goode was a loving mother and a devoted friend and a catalyst for change. She lived a full and productive life, setting a high bar for others to follow. She died peacefully in her home on January 13. She is preceded in death by Jim Garner (father), Bertha Duncan Garner (mother), Jannie M. Shackelford (sister), Robert L Johnson, Sam Goode (husband), and Michael Johnson (son). She leaves behind her sons Robert T. (Marilyn) Johnson and Mark J. Johnson, grandsons William Brown III and Markus Johnson, great grandchildren, Marquavius Johnson and Miyannah Johnson, niece, Gwendolyn Shackleford, great niece Canisa Shackleford and her children Jashuan and KeiAyr, great nephew, Japheus Jones, and his children, Jabreayl, JaeOna, and Japheus Jr. and a host of extended family and friends.