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Ruston native continues family legacy while staying young at heart

July 11, 2014
Ruston native, Stephanie Goff, hard at work tending to her garden. – Tech Talk photo files

Ruston native, Stephanie Goff, hard at work tending to her garden. – Tech Talk photo files

BRENNEN LEGE
Staff Reporter

Without an alarm, Stephanie Goff is up every morning at around five or six to greet the day. The 71-year-old still feels as good as she did 10 years ago. Today, Goff needs to harvest tomatoes in the garden for her lunch with Lolly, her 96-year-old mother. The bark of her golden retriever Rooster interrupts breakfast, and Goff obliges his call for a morning run. 

Perhaps the full schedule that she follows is the reason her 5-foot, petite size stays spry and fully capable of managing the fully-grown canine.

“When it all stops, I am just miserable,” said Goff. “The trick is to keep busy, travel a lot, and be around family.”

The camaraderie in her household is as strong as ever. Only three years ago, her husband Kennon passed away. Leaning on her loved ones, and vice versa, Goff found it in herself to choke the reigns of the household, becoming the matriarch of two prominent Ruston families.

“We were always childhood sweethearts,” said Goff about her relationship with Kennon. “Our families were friends back to our great-grandparents.”

 “I’m still having fun,” she continued. “‘Strength and courage’ was something an old boss used to tell me and it just stuck with me.”

Goff2Born Stephanie Hearn, Stephanie’s parents, grandparents and even her greats were all teachers in Ruston. Her brother Steve currently teaches business law at Louisiana Tech. Across town, the Goffs were a family with a legacy that would span more than 100 years in Ruston, most of those spent in the practice of law. In downtown Ruston on Main Street, the Goff name is still visible on an old office building, perhaps used for practicing law at some point.

Goff’s son Add, a Louisiana Tech graduate, carries on the family business with his wife. As a town notary, Stephanie still dabbles in law from time to time, something she says she was always interested in.

“In high school I developed a passion for history and wanted to become a lawyer in college, so I enrolled at Tech to get my undergraduate’s,” said Goff. “After a year of being a student at Tech, I changed my mind into becoming a teacher and transferred to LSU.”

Goff taught children up until she started having her own to look after. With a husband whose job demanded travel, often times as far away as European countries, she learned to take care of four children and an estate all on her own, and continues to do so today.

 “I try to take care of much of it myself,” said Goff. “One of the most fun times at Christmas that I had was when my husband gave me a tractor and no one could believe it.

“I learned to be fairly independent. I ran his law office and I ran the house and learned to ride the tractor.”

About seven minutes down the road from Goff & Goff law office near downtown Ruston lies Goff’s’s 30-acre estate. At the bottom of a long driveway winding downhill past tall pines and small ponds sits a house. With white columns and bricks shining through the green woods that surround it, the home Stephanie built alongside Kennon brings back many memories for her.

Goff3

On most Sundays, Goff has her entire family over for a lunch she cooks on her own. Some months go without Sunday lunch, like when she visits her daughter Dorothy in Germany at least four times a year.

 While society’s rules evolve over time, the old laws of nature remain unaltered. As the body and mind grow older, the best we can do is either submit to these laws or fight back. These days, Goff can sometimes be seen riding a lawn mower, tending to her responsibilities as always.

Email comments to bsl008@latech.edu.

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