Pastor recalls ‘a good guy’ who quietly helped others

Mi­chael Good­win grew up as a mem­ber of St. Mi­chael’s Luther­an Church, at Trenton Av­en­ue and Cum­ber­land Street in Kens­ing­ton, and re­mained an act­ive mem­ber long after mov­ing to Park­wood.

He was pres­id­ent of the church coun­cil when the Rev. Mar­jor­ie Neal ar­rived as pas­tor nine years ago. Oth­ers as­sumed the role in re­cent years, but Good­win held the po­s­i­tion again at the time of his death.

Neal said she bap­tized Good­win’s two grand­chil­dren, and she’ll of­fi­ci­ate at his fu­ner­al ser­vice on Thursday af­ter­noon.

“Mike was a good guy,” she said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “He al­ways re­spec­ted people. He’s go­ing to be sorely missed.”

The pas­tor said Good­win was fully in­volved in the church. “He was a man who loved his faith,” she said. “He had a warm spot for the older wo­men who needed help at their house, and he would take them to the gro­cery store. And he did it quietly.”

Good­win’s wid­ow and two adult chil­dren are also mem­bers of the church, and Neal has spent time with them since learn­ing of his death to of­fer com­fort and to help pre­pare her homily. She also spoke to off-duty fire­fight­ers who came to the church on Monday to clean the in­teri­or of the church in ad­vance of Thursday’s ser­vice.

The smallish church will not be able to ac­com­mod­ate all the mourn­ers, and video screens will be set up out­side to show the ser­vice.

Neal re­called a con­ver­sa­tion with Good­win, ask­ing him why a vet­er­an cap­tain would be climb­ing on roofs and en­ter­ing burn­ing build­ings.

“He said, ‘Pas­tor, I re­fuse to send my men in­to places I wouldn’t go my­self,’ ” she re­called. “That’s the kind of man he was.”

Fel­low fire­fight­ers at sta­tions across the city had noth­ing but kind words to say about Good­win.

The of­ficers and fire­fight­ers at his home sta­tion, En­gine 53, Lad­der 27 in South Phil­adelphia, de­clined to speak be­cause the cause of the fire was still be­ing in­vest­ig­ated. There’s a me­mori­al trib­ute to Good­win out­side the sta­tion, com­plete with wreaths, flowers, an Amer­ic­an flag, a candle, a toy fire truck and a sign that reads, “You’re Our Her­oes.”

In the de­part­ment, many of the fire­fight­ers either know each oth­er or know of one an­oth­er. They work to­geth­er at some point in their ca­reers, or see each oth­er at fun­draisers and re­tire­ment parties.

In vis­its to sev­er­al fire­houses — En­gine 7, Lad­der 10 at 3798 Kens­ing­ton Ave.; En­gine 6, Lad­der 16 at Ara­mingo Av­en­ue and Hunt­ing­don Street; and En­gine 33 at Rich­mond and Kirk­bride streets — the guys praised Good­win the man and fire­fight­er. They didn’t want their names used out of re­spect to his col­leagues at the South Phil­adelphia sta­tion and be­cause of what they see as the fire ad­min­is­tra­tion’s will­ing­ness to pun­ish any­one who speaks pub­licly without per­mis­sion.

“He knew the job in­side and out. He was the kind of guy you wanted on the roof to come in and get you,” one said.

Good­win was al­ways smil­ing and liked de­liv­er­ing one-liners and jokes, his cowork­ers said. He was pas­sion­ate about his job and al­ways eager to help col­leagues.

“That was very en­cour­aging for a young fire­man to hear,” one said. “He was an auto­mat­ic lead­er, one of those kinds of guys.”

“If you ever had ques­tions,” an­oth­er said, “he was will­ing to help you out.”

When chil­dren stop by the sta­tion for a tour or to see the ap­par­at­us, it’s of­ten the young fire­fight­ers who are as­signed the task of pro­mot­ing fire safety. But Good­win loved do­ing it him­self.

“He loved be­ing a fire­man,” one said.

“His repu­ta­tion speaks for it­self. He was an out­stand­ing fire­man,” an­oth­er said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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