Volume 5, Number 8, Summer 1975
All news media of the area, state and much of America, noted the death of Dr. Robert McGowan Good, President Emeritus of The School of the Ozarks and Past President of the White River Valley Historical Society. Editors, columnists, and reporters vied each with the other in telling of the great educator, humanitarian, and friend.
I cannot hope to equal the writings of those great writers. I must attempt, only to tell what Dr. Good meant to his neighbors and to members of the White River Valley Historical Society.
We knew and many have watched, Doctor Good, as the man who literally built a great school, not from bricks and mortar, but from oak logs, stones, and the milk of human kindness.
We do not forget Dr. Forsythe, who, with the help of the Synod of the Southern Presbyterians of Missouri, first opened The School of the Ozarks.
After fire destroyed the building and after Dr. Forsythe left, the young Dr. Good had to practically rebuild The School. He laid well the foundations for a great college 40 years later to be fully accredited by the North Central Association the first year of its being as a four year college.
Those first years were difficult years in this Ozark mountain area of Missouri. You may recall that when Mrs. Elizabeth Mahnkey went to Washington, D.C. to receive the award naming her the best country correspondent in America, someone asked her, "What do the Ozark people use for money?" Mrs. Mahnkey replied, "They dont, they go fishing."
Weve listened to Dr. Good tell that on many a day the college coffers held not enough money to pay for the food for students of The School. We believe, that Dr. Good took his problem to his God, with a faith that knew his Father would help. Those were the days when no one received exemption from taxes on any gifts; the day of few or at least fewer persons of wealth enough to make its spending a problem. Hundred dollar gifts came scarce and million dollar gifts unheard of.
But Dr. Good could tell of how the mail the next morning would bring enough of gifts, often in one and two dollar amounts, to provide manna for all.
When the DARs came from St. Louis to present a blooded cow to the School, the DAR
women slept on pallets on the floor. There was not a guest house or even a guest room.
Dr. Good knew too, of the real needs and longings in the homes of many of the students. At Christmas time into these homes came "Santa Gifts," an answer to the prayers of many a child and its mother.
Dr. Goods door stood open to receive and confer with any student with a problem, real or imagined, often to a boy or girl who needed only a friend. No former student returned to the campus that did not bring his wife and children to see Dr. Good. They sent letters and pictures of their families. The walls of Dr. Goods office were covered with these pictures, mingled with those of the great and near great of Missouri and America. There they hung while the placques and certificates giving honor to Dr. Good hung on the wall of a big garage room that never held a car. It held only mementoes of love and honor.
All along the way Dr. Good knew and appreciated the love and help of a good woman. This one recognized, for always he could quickly quote a verse or poem about Mother.
By his side on the campus in the beginning of The School of the Ozarks, through to its becoming a high school and then a junior college, stood Lyta Davis Good. After her death surely Gad sent Gladys Shook Good, who made smooth the path and at its end kept a home, a place of refugee and good living.
Dr. Good reached what man declares retirement age, but Dr. Good never retired. He kept on building good will, therefore, good gifts for The School of the Ozarks. When one entered his office, where everyone loved to go, Dr. Good never spoke the work "I," instead he told of some exciting event concerning a former student or friend of The School of the Ozarks.
One could scarcely enter a home, even into the hinter lands of this area that Dr. Good had not been there, when trouble or great happiness had come. He could sit in the shanty or on the creek bank with the same ease he entertained General Sverdrup in his office.
With four words Gladys Shook Good drew the perfect picture of our friend, Dr. Robert McGowan Good when she said, "He was so kind."
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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