Dr. Harry Goodwin, Jr., a 1964 graduate of Leesville High School, was born on September 26, 1946, in Port Sulphur, Louisiana. His Dad was a welder who worked primarily on pipelines jobs.
“He worked seven days a week on the pipeline. We moved often. In fact, my mother, dad, sister Terry Sue, and I lived in a small trailer. We were a close-knit family–we had to be!
“We lived in several towns including Glenmora, Baton Rouge, Natchitoches, Opelousas, and as far away as Des Moines, Iowa and Buffalo, New York.”Goodwin remembers.
Around 1962 Fort Polk reopened and Goodwin’s father got a job at Fort Polk.
The family moved to Leesville.
“We lived in the trailer park on West Texas Street until we bought a house on Harriet Street near the School Board Office. My parents wanted our family to settled down in one place, and Dad wanted to start his own welding business.” Goodwin said.
Goodwin’s father started AAA Welding in New Llano in a building that was part of the New Llano Cooperative Colony.
The first floor of the building had been used to print the colony newspaper and the upper floor was a dance hall.
He also had a “scrap yard business” located behind the welding shop.
Harry fondly remembers, “whenever Dad accumulated a full truckload, we would take the scrap iron to sell in Alexandria. His helper J.B. Martin would drive the truck that did not have a license plate. So, we would leave Leesville at 4 a.m. in the morning; I drove the car, following closely enough behind the truck so no car could get between my car and the truck.
“We really had a good life growing up. Dad was well respected by his peers—he worked in his shop well into his 90’s. My mom worked each day in the office at the shop. They were a good team.”
Goodwin enjoyed settling down in one place.
“ We got a great education at LHS. I made so many good friends.” Goodwin said.
As teenagers did in those days he would “hang out” at the Burger Bar, cruise around town in the family car, usually trying to connect with a girl.
Gas was only about 30 cents a gallon, which does not sound like much, but the minimum wage was just over one dollar an hour.
Goodwin played the trombone in the LHS marching band.
He remembers one instance after all these years.
“It was an important home football game and the stands were filled. As usual, the band performed at halftime. Larry Monk and Judy Sanders also played the trombone.
“We were marching up the field and at the 40-yard line we three turned left toward the home stands and the rest of the band members kept marching straight. To this day I still think we were right!” Goodwin said.
Goodwin was also a member of Coach Billy Bennett’s basketball team.
In the summer he played Pelican League baseball.
The home games were played on the field located on Red Town Road—down the hill from the courthouse.
“Our team was coached by George Smith and Bobby Craft. Both had been outstanding Wampus Cat athletes. George was a running back at Tulane and Bobby was the baseball catcher at McNeese. They were so much fun to play for! Bobby was known for his “colorful language.” Fans seldom sat in the bleachers behind the home dugout.” Goodwin recalls.
After high school, Harry enrolled at USL in Lafayette.
There was a strong incentive to do well for college students. The Vietnam War was raging. After graduating he entered Loyola Dental School in New Orleans.
Doing well in dental school gave Harry a lot of self-confidence.
“I got an excellent education, especially the clinical labs. Our instructor was Dr. Eastman who ‘ruled the school.’ He would ‘ream you out’ for inferior work. I always had to be prepared.” Goodwin said.
He reminded Harry of the John Houseman role as Dr. Kingsfield in the movie Paper Chase.
After graduating in 1971 he joined the Navy as a Lieutenant in the dental services. He was stationed at the Naval Station Great Lakes just north of Chicago for two years.
He then moved to Miami, Florida to practice, becoming a partner with Dr. Potter.
Alicia, his girlfriend in college (now his wife) lived there.
Three years later Goodwin was missing home and decided to move back.
His roommate at Loyola, George Fisher, had just set up a dental practice in DeRidder and was looking for a partner. Harry accepted his offer.
Living in DeRidder enabled him to have time with his family and reconnect with his high school buddies, parents of his friends, former teachers. Many became his patients.
His wife Alicia is a kindergarten teacher/PreK 4 at Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School in Lake Charles.
Goodwin and Alicia have two sons, Brett and Brandon, who are graduates of Duke University.
Brett is an Interventional Cardiologist in Lake Charles and Brandon is a Corporate Lawyer in Houston. They have three granddaughters and one grandson.
Every 10 years he attends the “4” year class reunions. “
The LHS Alumni Association is remarkable. “You will never see a better high school alumni association anywhere,” Goodwin states.
“Leesville was always really good to me. It was and still is a patient base to this day.”
Harry is now in his 42nd year as a dentist in DeRidder and still enjoys taking care of his patients.