Tony Goff, West Coast Swing Dancer, Takes His Last Dance…. Death is the great leveler. It is no respecter persons. The Holy Bible says that there is just as assuredly an appointed day of our death as there was a day of our birth. And even though we all know this, when death strikes our corner of the world, we are jolted, devastated, in shock. My brother-in-law Tony Goff passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last week and I have been asked by the family to share with you what I said at his funeral.
Tony Goff never entered a room quietly. No, Tony BURST into a room like an exploding piñata at a kid’s birthday party –sharing his unique confetti of love and laughter with everyone within earshot.
His voice was loud. His wit was quick. And he could make you laugh so hard and so deep that you cried and lost your breath all at the same time.
Tony didn’t just meet people, he collided with people. It didn’t matter if they were friend, family, or foe… if they met Tony, they forever remembered Tony. His LIFEFORCE, his SPIRIT, his ENERGY, emanated from him in a way that I am not sure even Tony knew quite what to do with.
According to his 8 brothers and sisters, Tony was often the instigator of many of their childhood mischievousness. I have heard the STORIES OF TONY for as long as I have I have been a part of the Goff family. Here are just a few of them:
- The Goff’s were living in Oklahoma City, Ok at the time, and five-year-old Tony decided to have his older brothers Buddy who was 9 and Eddie who was 7, help him carry the girl next door into their house. Buddy had a hold of her arms, Tony and Eddie each had one of her legs, and they were about half-way into the house, when Buddy saw his dad’s car pull into the driveway. Buddy dropped her and ran off so Tony ran around to her head, and grabbed both arms and was dragging with all his might when his dad walked up behind him.
- Other family stories involving Tony included him getting hit by a fire-truck and running off, sliding down a rope off the 3rd floor balcony while using his teeth to hang on, calling in a bomb-threat to his girlfriend’s high school so she could have the day off, and ending up in such a clothing snafu that the Emergency Room doctors had to help him.
STORIES OF TONY
Those are just a few of the stories of Tony. But the reality is we all have stories about Tony. All you need to do is get a few people together who knew Tony and stories just start flowing.
My own story of Tony was when I was 19 and out with the Addison church youth group. We were all at the Denny’s restaurant at 53& Lake St and Tony had everone laughing by giving us his own performance of the song Rapper’s Delight, by the Sugar Hill Gang. Here is just a small excerpt from that song that is emblazoned in mind because of Tony’s antics that day.
I said a hip hop,
The hippie, the hippie,
To the hip, hip hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it
To the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie,
To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat
A skiddlelbebop, we rock, Scooby doo
And guess what, America, we love you…
Have you ever went over to a friends house to eat and the food just aint no good?
I mean the macaroni’s soggy, the peas are mushy
And the chicken tastes like wood…
And Tony would repeat that last line over and over again in a way that only Tony can… “and the chicken tastes like wood…”
33 years later, I can still see Tony duded up in all his 80’s style glory rapping that song and making us all laugh.
And Tony would want us to keep laughing –Because you see, laughter was Tony’s way of loving us. His laughter bonded us together. Just take a look around at the diverse group of people that are here today to honor his memory. Under any other circumstance it is doubtful that we would find an occasion to break bread and laugh together.
FOR ONE MORE DAY
One of my favorite books is called “For One More Day” by Mitch Ablom. In this book, Ablom tells the fictionalized story of a day in the death of Chick Benetto, ex-pro baseball player, ex-husband, and ex-father who encounters the spirit of his dead mother and explores what his life would have been like if he had been able to have one more day with her. In the book, Ablom says:
“Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever?”-For One More Day
I don’t know what you would say to Tony if you had one more day with him. But I do know what Tony would say to you if he had one more day with you. How do I know? Because I have heard from many of you who had long, meaningful conversations with Tony during the last 6 months or so of his life. Conversations that were unlike the normal conversations Tony would have with you. Conversations about Jesus. About forgiving. About making peace with yourself, and with others. About the incredible experience of Holy Ghost and the Acts 2:38 message. About the importance of belonging to a church and having a pastor. About telling your family you love them, and that they are important to you.
Ashley, Brittany, Danielle and Marc, more than anything else in this world your dad loved you. He was proud of you and bragged on you to everyone he could. But my guess is that if he had one more day with you now, he would tell it all to you over again and a thousand times stronger than he ever had before.
Buddy, Eddie, David, Glynda, Evon, Paula, Mollie and Theresa, if Tony had one more day with you, I think he would say even more emphatically the things he said to you in your final conversations with him. On some level, it seemed that Tony realized that he needed to say, what he wanted to say, in case he didn’t have one more day. Perhaps it was the cancer scare, perhaps it was divine direction, but either way, by all accounts Tony spent the last 6 months of his life speaking his heart to many of you.
Dance Community and Church Community, I think Tony would want you to get to know each other. To see what he loved and valued about you. To cross the bridge between your two different worlds and share your stories of love, life, and laughter.
Can’t you imagine how heaven was impacted when Tony arrived?
We know that he didn’t just slip quietly into the Pearly Gates. No, Tony, being Tony, probably stepped right onto the streets of gold and hollered… “Hellooooooo I’m here…. where’s the food, I’m starved!”
And then after he hugged his mom, and dad, and Michelle and all the others, he probably made a dozen new friends, then picked up his guitar and starting singing.
Only, this time, he didn’t sing about chicken or wood, or the Chatahoochie… but He sung songs of praise to Jesus. And when he was done singing, he probably ran to the throne room to do his single footed spin and sugar push for an audience of ONE… the Lord of Glory.
OBITUARY OF TONY GOFF
Anthony Albert Goff was born in Blytheville, Arkansas to Paul Laverne Goff and Olma Martha Goff on June 15, 1958. Tony was the 3rd son, and the 8th child to be born to the Goff family who were living at 29B Chickasaw Court in Blytheville, Arkansas at the time.
Tony was preceded in death by his parents, (Paul and Martha), his niece Patricia, his niece Donna, his nephew Billy, and his brother-in-law Jim, …and is survived by, his 3 daughters, Ashley Young (Rick), Brittany Levins (Seth), Danielle Hall (Dustin), his son Marc; his 3 grandchildren, Auria, Greyson, and Zion, his 8 siblings: Glynda Nails, Evon Paschall, Mollie Peek, Paula Kraus, Theresa Maness (Phillip), Paul Goff Jr. (Debbie) Eddie Goff(Jeanne) and David Goff (Tammy) as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Tony was a successful entrepreneur, a talented singer and guitarist, as well as an Advance Level professional swing dancer who earned multiple medals and trophies competing at West Coast Swing Dance Competitions across the United States and Puerto Rico.
“Tony was a beloved member of his dance community because he was an enthusiastic, kind and joyful dancer. He won the hearts of the entire West Coast Swing Community and was respected by his fellow competitors and judges alike…Everyone loved Tony.” -Dance Community Member
And Tony was a long-time member of the Calvary United Pentecostal Church (CUPC) in Addison, IL. Although sometimes more active in his membership at CUPC than at other times, Tony was always enthusiastic about his love for his church family and for Pastor Labat.
“Tony was a good man that loved his family, his church, and his God.” -Pastor Brian Labat
Tony loved the big, beautiful family that he was a part of and brought laughter, music and song to every Goff family gathering he attended. But Tony loved his kids even more.