A 20-year-old Westporter, killed Friday in a Minnesota auto accident along with two other students from his college, was remembered this week by friends and family as an intelligent and athletic young man valued as a friend and recognized as a leader by many of his peers.
A memorial service is planned Thursday for Michael Goodgame, a 2011 Staples High School graduate, who died in the crash that claimed the lives of two fellow students and injured another from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.
Five students were on their way to an ultimate frisbee tournament when their sport utility vehicle skidded on an icy road and was hit by an oncoming tractor-trailer truck, according to the Associated Press.
"This is so devastating and so tragic," Jim Farnen, a vice principal at Staples and an advisor for Goodgame's graduating class, said Monday. "He will be sorely missed.
Farnen said he knew Goodgame well and actually remembers the day he came for a freshman tour of the high school.
The youngest of three brothers, Farnen said Goodgame was a "well-rounded, well-liked, thoughtful and kind" person, and a "top-tier, A-1 kid."
He recalled that he would jokingly call him "Senator Goodgame," because of his leadership qualities and dignity.
"Simply put, I have three sons and Michael is the type of person you would like your own children to become," said Farnen.
"I saw him every day" while he was at Staples," said Staples Principal John Dodig . "He was highly respected. He made good decisions, was polite and considerate, and liked to make changes in people's lives."
In 2011, Goodgame interned for Write Yourself Free in Westport and one of his pieces, about the importance of storytelling, was published on the blog of Dan Woog, a Westport native who blogs for Hearst Connecticut Media.
Woog, the head boys soccer coach at Staples, said Saturday that he knew Goodgame, who had played on the school's freshman soccer team.
"I knew Michael as a good, smart kid, with strong values," he said.
The accident that claimed the Carleton students' lives took place less than three miles from the small liberal arts college where Goodgame was a political science major. He would have graduated next year.
At Carleton, Goodgame achieved high marks in classes that ranged from Arabic to statistical analysis and political philosophy, according to his cousin, Lauren Brander. He swam on the varsity team as a freshman, but soon was attracted to the nationally known Carleton Ultimate Team, known as CUT, she said. That team, she said, travels the nation to compete against squads from Division I schools that are 20 and 30 times larger -- and regularly beats them en route to winning national titles.
On Friday, Goodgame and the four other students were on their way to the airport to fly to a tournament at Stanford University in California.
He also wrote for the college's student newspaper and was a member of the swim team.
"The collective Carleton soul aches for the loss of these young men," Carleton President Steven G. Poskanzer said in a statement on the Carleton College website. "Right now, we need to focus all our love and compassion on supporting the families and friends of all these young men, along with everyone in our community who cares for them."
Michael David Goodgame was born in Washington, D.C., and moved to Westport with his family when he was 4 years old, Brander said.
In 2005, when Michael was 12, he helped his parents and brothers organize aid to Pascagoula and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, Brander said.
The town of Westport adopted Pascagoula as a sister city and hundreds of donors sent truckloads of construction and cleaning supplies, schoolbooks, clothing and other items, along with volunteers from the fire and police departments, she added.
During the summers, he enjoyed working as a junior counselor at Cape Cod Sea Camps, where he had been a camper himself, and where he influenced hundreds of young lives. He also treasured vacations with his parents and two older brothers, whether to ski in Vermont, fish the upper Delaware River, visit relatives in Mississippi and Florida, or explore exotic locations such as Damascus and Jerusalem, Brander said.
Over the past two summers, he worked as a lifeguard and as a research intern for a Washington-based group called No Labels, which seeks to decrease partisanship in the nation's political discourse, she added.
Goodgame is survived by his parents, Marcia Logan and Dan Goodgame of Westport; his brothers Clayton, a graduate student in Middle East studies at Oxford University, and Sam, an Army Ranger lieutenant in the 101st Airborne Division; his grandmothers Ruth Logan of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Betty Goodgame of Pascagoula, Miss.; his aunts and uncles, Shasta and Tom Brander of Mountain Brook, Ala., Shannon and Howard Nolan of Albany, N.Y., and Mary Logan of Fort Lauderdale; his cousin Lauren Brander of New York City; and other relatives including Bob, Teenie and Cheryl Goodgame of Vancleave, Miss.; Carla and Cleve Bond of Pascagoula; Nancy and Gene Jennings of Hueytown, Ala., and Julie and Darrell Loggains of Birmingham, Ala.
A memorial service for Michael Goodgame will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday at Christ and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 75 Church Lane. A reception will follow in the church's Branson Hall. Burial will take place on at 11 a.m. Friday in the Cemetery of Christ and Holy Trinity Church, 80 Kings Highway North.
Brander said that "for anyone who wishes to remember Michael in a tangible way," the family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the "CHT Church, Michael Goodgame Memorial Fund" at Christ and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 75 Church Lane, Westport, CT 06880. That fund will be used to enable underprivileged young people to participate in sports that Goodgame loved.