Published 12:00 am Friday, June 21, 2013
ROCKWELL — Dr. Summer Goodson says it cranks every time. On cue, the 1934 Ford roars to life as promised.
It was this V-8 model Ford — down to the same black color, pin-striping and interior — that her grandparents relied on when they were first married.
Goodson babies the car when she drives it, never allowing herself to go over 50 mph. She barely reaches the gas pedal, there’s no power steering, and the Ford requires manual shifting, “but it’s all sorts of fun,” Goodson says, steering around the long, circular driveway of her parents’ farm in eastern Rowan County.
“Everybody has a story about one of these old cars,” she adds.
The Goodson family story is all about classic vehicles and their connection to the late Barron Goodson, father to Summer and Sunni Goodson and husband to Sharon Goodson.
“He called us his girls,” Sharon says.
A longtime purchasing agent and domestic purchasing director for Cannon Mills and its successors, Fieldcrest-Cannon and Pillowtex, Barron Goodson died of lung cancer Jan. 5, 2012.
He was a car enthusiast, to understate his passion, and through the years bought, sold, traded and restored at least a dozen cars and trucks. He enjoyed traveling with friends to car shows throughout the Southeast.
A 1956 Thunderbird, which Barron sold to Gary Ritchie of Gary’s Barbecue, even helped to pay for some of the land where he and Sharon built a home.
Summer Goodson remembers her father picking her up at pre-school in that Thunderbird, which is now one of two on display at Gary’s.
Barron Goodson left his three girls with six incredible vehicles: the 1934 Ford, 1955 Pontiac, 1957 Chevrolet truck, 1963 Studebaker Hawk, 1963 Thunderbird and a 1987 Chevy truck.
It wasn’t long after his death when Sharon, Summer, Sunni and other family members were talking at the Goodson home and asking themselves how they could honor Barron, while also raising awareness about lung cancer.
Everyone quickly arrived at the same answer: a classic car show.
“It was that obvious,” Sharon says.
With help from many people and sponsors in the car show fraternity — “It takes the community to do this,” Sharon says — the Goodsons made the first Barron D. Goodson Memorial Classic Car and Truck Show a reality in 2012.
Some might call it a rousing success, given the short period of time it all came together. “For a first year, we were very blessed,” Sharon Goodson says.
The Goodsons are deep into planning the second annual classic show, which is set for Oct. 19 at CMC-Northeast Stadium in Kannapolis.
Last year’s event drew almost 150 cars and trucks and at least 300 spectators. Meanwhile, the show raised $7,800, and with the help of sponsorship money, the event donated $13,000 to the N.C. Lung Cancer Partnership, an organization the Goodsons came to know while Barron was still alive.
About 20 friends and family members walked in support of Barron Goodson at the Free to Breathe 5K walk/race in Raleigh in October 2010. Barron himself walked some of the distance.
“It was a really special day,” Summer Goodson says. “… They’re (the Lung Cancer Partnership) fantastic people.”
Summer, a cellular biologist in Chapel Hill, has come to know by heart some of the vital statistics associated with lung cancer.
One in 16 people are diagnosed with lung cancer. The five-year survival rate is only 15 percent. There are more cases of lung cancer than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined, though those diseases seem to attract more attention and more money for research.
“And you don’t have to be a smoker,” Summer Goodson stresses. Her father, who already had a Stage 4, inoperable, non-small cell adenocarcinoma lung cancer when it was diagnosed, was not a smoker.
The N.C. Lung Cancer Partnership wants to see the five-year survival rate double over the next 10 years.
Sharon Goodson says her husband survived beyond his original prognosis. Money raised for the Lung Cancer Partnership is aimed at increasing hope and extending the future for those diagnosed with the disease, she says.
“If you have lungs, you may get lung cancer,” Sharon adds, leading her to another axiom. “If you want someone to do something about lung cancer, don’t hold your breath.”
Diagnosed in 2010, Barron Goodson had a mutation predicted to respond to a targeted drug, and he went through the clinical trial in Chapel Hill.
It didn’t work, however. The cancer began progressing in 2011, and Barron insisted on taking his girls for a trip out West in August 2011. Later, as his condition worsened and he reached a “comfort only” phase, Summer and Sunni, who lives and works in Dublin, Ireland, put their careers on hold and helped to care for their father at home.
Sharon Goodson says her husband was a humble, generous, caring man who lived by the words contained in the “Desiderata.” “I keep hearing stories of things he has done for people,” she adds.
This year’s car and truck show will include first- and second-place trophies in most every category imaginable. But the Goodsons also plan a “Wall of Honor,” which will accept photographs of both lung cancer survivors and those who have lost their battles with the disease.
All of Barron Goodson’s classic vehicles have stories with them.
The green 1957 Chevrolet truck belonged to Barron’s grandfather and father, meaning Barron’s daughters will be a fourth generation owner.
“It’s not anything funny, but it’s special,” Summer Goodson says.
Barron Goodson restored the mint green 1955 Pontiac because his father and cousin drove the car. But he particularly loved his 1963 Studebaker Hawk.
“You should have seen his face when he’d drive that thing,” Summer says.
Barron Goodson’s wish list of other classic cars filled more than a page. Summer Goodson says he knew details behind every style of classic car. She could be riding with her father in a car at night, when the only thing they could see of vehicle car was its taillights.
But he would know immediately the year, make and model, Summer says.
Sharon Goodson says her husband taught Summer and Sunni how to drive manual transmissions, things they should know under the hood and how to wash the classic cars the right way.
He left the vehicles in good hands.
“They brought us a lot of joy,” Sharon says.
A committee of about 30 people is involved in planning and rounding up sponsors for the Oct. 19 car show.
In addition, the Kannapolis Intimidators will be promoting the Goodson Classic at their game against the Hickory Crawdads July 27, which is also Fireworks Night.
If you buy tickets at www.goodsonclassic.com, 50 percent of the proceeds go to the car show and the N.C. Lung Cancer Partnership
Sharon Goodson says friends such as Gary Walter and Wes Lee, president of the Carolina Muscle Car Club, have been invaluable.
“I think I have been to more car shows now than I had ever been to with Barron,” Sharon Goodson says. “… The car show community is one of the best groups of people.”
And though Sunni Goodson has been in Dublin, she has maintained the website while being assisted by Irish friend Ronan Kealy, a website designer.
“Both she and he are vital to our efforts,” Sharon says.
Almost every day, Sharon Goodson visits her husband’s grave at Lowerstone Church. She says she is grateful to God and all the people he has put in the girls’ path to carry through Barron’s legacy of caring.
“We want others to have the hope and faith and chance for treatments he had — a better quality of life and quantity of life,” she says.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or firstname.lastname@example.org.