Life Remembered: Goodall a tireless advocate for environment

SIDELL — East Central Illinois lost a passionate environmentalist and farmer who tirelessly voiced his concerns in an effort to educate and empower others, according to those who knew him well.

Charles William Goodall, 68, of Sidell died July 4 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago of complications from multiple myeloma, according to his obituary. The fifth-generation farmer who grew up on the farm in Sidell was an agricultural economics graduate of the University of Illinois, a member of the Sidell Lions Club, the Farm Bureau and served on the Hastings drainage district commission, Lake Vermilion Water Quality Coalition, the Sidell Tree Commission, the Prairie Rivers Network board and founded Stand Up to Coal.

"It would be hard to find a person more dedicated to the environment," said Bruce Hannon, an emeritus professor at the UI and environmental activist who has known Mr. Goodall for 35 years.

But, Hannon said, Mr. Goodall was also a farmer, ditch commissioner, father and husband.

"And just sterling in all those categories. There's no kinder, gentler or thoughtful person," said Hannon, who also described him as "always upbeat" and "unique."

After college, Mr. Goodall spent two years with the Peace Corps in Venezuela, then lived in New York and St. Louis, where he graduated from Washington University School of Law. He and his wife, Nancy Tsai Chao, returned to Sidell to farm with his father.

Hannon said Mr. Goodall could easily speak about environmental concerns to members of the farm bureau and the drainage district, because he was all of those things.

"He'll be missed because of his uniqueness," Hannon said.

Clark Bullard, fellow Prairie Rivers Network board member, said his insightful contributions to the development of the network's positions on agricultural issues will be missed. As a drainage district commissioner, Bullard said, he led by example, experimenting with creative ways to provide drainage without wrecking the habitat for fish and other wildlife, and as a farmer and board member Prairie Rivers, he had been leading an effort to develop a model land lease for absentee landowners who want to ensure that tenants farm their land in a sustainable manner.

"Charles was a thoughtful man who always spoke from his heart - directly into ours," Bullard said.

Though she hadn't known Mr. Goodall as long as Hannon and Bullard, Traci Barkley with Prairie Rivers Network worked very closely with him in the last few years on coal issues. Mr. Goodall started Stand Up to Coal, a grass-roots association of people dedicated to protecting drinking water, farmland, health of communities and the environment and stopping a proposed underground coal mine in Vermilion and Champaign counties.

Barkley said Mr. Goodall launched the Stand Up to Coal initiative with just a handful of people. She said he was so proud of how it became a large, diverse group of people.

"He was just extremely passionate about talking with folks about how strong their communities were and how fortunate they were to have the farmland they have and the clean and abundant groundwater and rivers systems," she said. "He poured a lot of heart, and time and money into that effort. He was really tireless in letting people know what his concerns were and empowering folks to find their voices."

Susan Smith of Homer is also involved in the Stand Up to Coal initiative, but her husband and father-in-law had known and worked with Mr. Goodall for many years. She described him as a life-long learner, who would call or stop by occasionally to discuss his ideas on whatever problem he was working on at the time.

"Charles was always coming up with creative ideas that challenged the status quo," she said. "Most recently, my husband and I have begun farming organically with one of his sisters. It has been a delight to team up with the Goodall family in this venture. I so appreciated Charles for his enthusiasm and determination in everything he did."

Barkley said he was also progressive, living in a passive solar home decades before that was in vogue and using progressive farming practices long before anyone else.

"Our hope is that others will continue working and living the way that he did," she said. "We are really going to miss his involvement, leadership and passion."

A memorial service for Mr. Goodall will be held at 4 p.m. July 28 at the Sidell United Methodist Church, 202 Chicago St., Sidell.

Nora Maberry-Daniels, editor of The Leader, contributed to this report.

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AdrianaSmith wrote on July 13, 2013 at 11:07 am

I'm absolutely sad and chocked, I knew Mr. Charles Godall, and he was one of the most humanitarian gentilman I meet, she was so entusiastic about Sidell, and so helpful, I'm sure he will be missed. Rest in Peace, my prayers with his family and all the people that he touch with his kindness.