Cover photo for James Goheen's Obituary
James Goheen Profile Photo
1935 James 2015

James Goheen

July 15, 1935 — September 2, 2015

Jim Goheen died Wednesday at his home in Calvert City.
James Luther Goheen was born in 1935, the first child of Oliver and Roma Pearl (Gordon) Goheen of Eddyville. The family lived in towns up and down the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, following Oliver's job as a lockman for the Corps of Engineers.
As Kentucky Dam was finished in the mid-1940s, the family, now including Jim's sister Delores, finally settled in Gilbertsville, living for a while in a home that later became a guest cottage at Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park.
Jim first became known around Marshall County as a standout basketball player for Calvert City High School. Quick with the ball, he was nicknamed "Lighnin' Jim."
One of his favorite stories from that time was how a friend decided to test just how well-known he was by sending a series of postcards from a vacation addressed to variations on Jim's nickname, ending with one addressed with only a crudely drawn lightning bolt and "Gilbertsville, Kentucky."
All of the cards made it to their destination. Even though they could each be redeemed for hamburgers or milkshakes, Jim kept the cards for the rest of his life.
During his high school years, his parents had a third child, Gordon, who Jim and Delores helped take care of. After his father's death in 1964, Jim took a large role in helping his mother raise his younger brother.
He attended Murray State College, graduating in 1959. Later that year, he joined the U.S. Army and married Helen Harrington of Calvert City - going AWOL for the ceremony, he always maintained.
He was stationed in West Germany as a chaplain's assistant, which he called "the best job in the Army," and took his new bride with him. They traveled throughout Europe when they had the time. When talking about his time in the service, he always mentioned that he heard The Beatles in Germany before they were famous in America and he was only issued live ammunition once.
Returning to Marshall County in 1961, he began a long career as an educator. His first permanent assignment was as principal of West Marshall school at a time when principals also drove buses, coached sports, taught classes and managed lunchrooms.
His final assignment before his retirement in 2000 was as the first principal at the brand-new Central Elementary School in Draffenville, where the street in front of the school is named in his honor.
In between, he helped shape thousands of Marshall County's young people as principal (and sometimes basketball coach) at Gilbertsville, Briensburg, Jonathan, Benton, North Marshall and South Marshall schools. Although he was highly educated - he held a master's degree and postgraduate certifications from Murray State - he led schools and served as a role model to young people by relying more on his moral compass and deep reservoir of people skills than on anything they taught at Murray State.
A story from his career illustrates how he treated young people as people. One particular teacher loved to send kids to the office for the smallest misbehavior back in the days of corporal punishment. He was almost always of the opinion that no punishment was necessary, so he would step into the hall, smack the bottom of his shoe with his paddle a couple of times and send the kid back to class with instructions to look hurt.
Following his retirement, he continued to help young people by serving on the county foster care review board.
He and Helen, who became a teacher herself, settled in Calvert City and they had one child, Mike. Jim did his best to help Helen through several periods of mental illness. The marriage ended in 1985 and Helen died in 2014.
In 1986, Jim married Judy Lyles of Calvert City, the second marriage for both of them. He treated her sons Mike, Tim, Bruce and Andy as his own - and later Bruce's wife Wendy and daughters Erika and Brooke, who called him "granddaddy." After his retirement, he cared for Judy during a lengthy illness before her death in 2013.
He was a member of the Church of Christ.
He remained active until July of this year, when he learned he had cancer and was cared for primarily by his brother Gordon and his wife Debbie.
He loved gardening and basketball, had a complicated relationship with fishing and could fry a chicken better than Colonel Sanders. He was a terrible driver but had beautiful handwriting. He couldn't fix anything mechanical but he could put a troubled kid on the right track with patience and the right words.
He didn't try to call attention to himself but it seemed everyone in Marshall County knew him - because he helped anyone who needed it, kept his word and did what he knew was right.
He is survived by his son, Mike Goheen of Dayton, Ohio; his brother and sister-in-law, Gordon and Debbie Goheen of Marthasville, Mo.; his sister and brother-in-law, Delores and Jim Williams of Butler, Pa.; his stepsons and their families, Bruce and Wendy Lyles of Calvert City, Erika Lyles Ford of Louisville, Brooke Lyles of Murray, Andy Lyles of Calvert City and Tim Lyles of Memphis, Tenn.; a niece, Tamara Goheen of Austin, Texas; a nephew, Joshua Goheen of Maplewood, Mo., and many cousins.
Visitation from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday and funeral services at 2 p.m. Sunday at Collier Funeral Home, 211 West 5th St., Benton, Ky. 42025.
Instead of flowers, please make a donation to the Robert Goheen Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 466, Calvert City, Ky. 42029, in Jim's honor. Robert was Jim's high school principal, his cousin and mentor as an educator.

Service Details

Sunday, September 6th, 2015 2:00pm, Collier Funeral Home

Interment Details

Woodlawn Memorial Gardens

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