Stephen Val Goddard

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

If ever there was a person who died doing what he loved, it was Stephen Val Goddard (b. Jan. 5, 1937)—whose heart gave out unexpectedly on August 30, 2023, while bird hunting in the Idaho mountains. It was a beautiful fall day, spent with his best hunting buddy, Bill, and Steve’s well-loved dog.

Steve grew up in Ogden, Utah, sleeping in the coal bin in his mother Catherine (Katie) Ainsworth’s basement, a space his four brothers jealously described later as the only single room in the house. Katie raised her boys mostly solo, hustling as a cocktail waitress, bringing home over time not just leftover food but also six husbands. Steve’s father, Willard, was a cowboy, once arriving in a bar (yes, IN, not AT) still on the back of his horse. Willard loved his family, fighting for custody of his boys back in the 1940s, and raising them for a time with his mother, Lillian (“Mom,” to Steve).

Steve took to the outdoors early. Back then, there was no hiking just for fun, so Steve explored his deep love of everything wild through flyfishing and bird hunting (of which he kept careful logs spanning decades). His father and brothers were wonderfully skilled craftsmen; put mildly, Steve was not (ask Darcy about the “treehouse” she and her dad built). Fortunately, he had an insatiable love of learning, which led him to a Ph.D. in Zoology, 12 years teaching wildlife biology to college students, a law degree, and 24 years practicing natural resources law.

Steve was a feminist. Add that to his lifelong love of sports and you get hours coaching his daughters’ T-ball and softball teams, years watching Borah High School’s women’s basketball, and even three years in last place on his daughters’ fantasy baseball team, The Seussian Sawfish. After moving to Mountain Home in 1996, Steve sponsored girls’ soccer teams and helped fund scholarships offered to graduating seniors by the local Democratic Party. Most recently, he served on the Recreation Foundation of Elmore County, which is working to make real the community’s long-held dream of a modern year-round swimming pool.

Steve had a deep-seated sense of right and wrong, and did not take kindly to any form of injustice. At his request, there will not be a service. If you wish to honor him, fight for democracy, protect the environment, and support your community.

Steve loved deeply, often without words, and died, we hope, knowing he was loved just as deeply in return. He leaves behind two brothers, David White and Howard Painter; his best friend and wife of 57 years, Leslie Goddard; two daughters, Maura Goddard (Scott Arnold) and Darcy Goddard; and four grandsons, Tristan, Kieran, and Nate Arnold, and Atticus Willard Goddard, all of whom are better men for having known him.