Hamilton Township VFD remembers Goff

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 23, 2008

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Firefighters are by nature and training a tough bunch. They go into burning buildings, snatch victims from wrecked cars with their jaws of life and they see in the wake of a fire the broken hearts from burned homes.

Sunday, Hamilton Township firefighters gathered to salve the pain of their own broken hearts and let the world know that one of their own may be gone now, but he is not forgotten. They dedicated a new mini-pumper fire truck in memory of the late Bill Goff, who died in March 2006. Goff was the department’s assistant fire chief and one of the first township residents to serve as a volunteer firefighter after the department was created in the 1970s. He was also a neighbor and a friend.

“I knew of him all my life,” firefighter David Holschuh said. “He was a good guy to get to know, once you got to know him. He was quiet, but he’d do anything in the world for you.”

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Barbara Witt was Goff’s cousin and one of the very few family members still living. She said she thought the dedication was “wonderful.”

“He was like his mother and father, just nice people,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve found anybody who had anything bad to say about Margaret and Cecil. And Bill was a devoted father. He was a family man.”

That sentiment was echoed by Mona and Jesse Holcomb, neighbors who had known Bill Goff his entire life.

“We were living there when he was born and he started coming over about as soon as he was able,” Jesse Holcomb said. “We worked together on different things and there was never a cross word between us.”

Fire Chief Mike Pearson recalled that Goff, who lived in a tan house across County Road 1A from the fire department, was often the first one to get on the road when the call came in for help.

“He was always the first one out with the first truck,” Pearson said.

And his devotion to the fire department was often people’s first encounter with him. Keynote speaker Dave Lucas recalled that once when a transformer blew and fell to the ground, it caught the grass on fire at his house.

“But within 10 minutes Bill Goff came roaring up in his own vehicle,” Lucas remembered. Goff and another firefighter then began hauling buckets of water from a creek to douse the flames. Lucas marveled that Goff kept a bucket in his own vehicle to carry water in an emergency.

Some who knew him best say Goff, a modest man, would have been a bit embarrassed by the fuss of the Sunday ceremony.What he would have loved, they said, was the truck that now bears the name “Little Bill.” Truck 806 has giant flames painted on the front and sides and zippy stripes.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a dispatcher from the Lawrence County 911Center sounded the final call for Bill Goff and then the first call for the new truck. Firefighters from other departments and emergency services agencies throughout the county also attended the ceremony. Assistant Fire Chief Charlie Hammond unveiled a display of Goff’s uniform shirt and badges that will be on shown at the fire station. The Rev. Tim Kocak, of the Ironton Catholic Community, blessed the truck and offered a prayer for the safety of the firefighters who will use it in the future.

Goff was killed March 18, 2006, when his estranged wife, Megan Goff, came to his house and shot him more than a dozen times. She was found guilty a year later during a trial that stretched over three weeks. She was sentenced to 33 years to life in prison. The Goffs had two children who are now cared for by a family member.