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Austin loses advocate for the environment and people

Tuesday, August 30, 2022 by Jo Clifton

Jack Goodman, who worked to convince the Texas Legislature to create a conservation district to help protect Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer and then served on that district’s board for 22 years, died Aug. 24 after a lengthy illness. He was 76.

His wife, former Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman, told the Austin Monitor she plans to hold a memorial service around the time of his birthday in November, that will be outdoors in a park near their home in South Austin. She also expects to have some kind of virtual memorial activities on Facebook.

Jack and Jackie were married in 1966 and moved to Austin in 1967. Jack graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in psychology. The couple grew up in El Paso and returned there for a short time before returning to Austin in the early 1970s, just as environmentalists were starting to get organized. Jack worked for the Lower Colorado River Authority for many years.

The pair had always been involved in social justice issues, but when they returned to Austin, they saw the need to protect the environment, especially Barton Springs and the creeks of South Austin.

Craig Smith, who currently serves on the board of the BSEACD, remembered both Goodmans’ involvement with the Save Barton Creek Association, where each of them served as president of the organization over the years. Although not as widely known as the Save Our Springs Alliance, SBCA was able to raise money in larger amounts than other groups because of its bingo game. The two groups teamed up on several occasions to file lawsuits to protect the environment.

Jack Goodman and Wes Halverson worked together to start Austin Youth River Watch, which Goodman was involved with for many years. Young people joining the organization learn how to test water in creeks and in the Colorado River, providing valuable information about pollutants. The group received initial funding from the Lower Colorado River Authority and the city of Austin. It continues today with help primarily from the LCRA.

Jackie said her husband wanted to help teenagers broaden their horizons, and by working to defend the environment, many learned skills that eventually led them to jobs in scientific and environmental fields. During his years of involvement with the river watch group, Goodman was part of a project to take Texas teens to Russia to meet a group of teenagers monitoring the Pravda River. This took place during the time that the Soviet Union had collapsed and Russia was reaching out to the West.

The following year, a group of Russian teenagers came to Austin to meet members of the Colorado River group and learn how they monitored local waterways. Kids from schools up and down the river, including Bastrop and Fayetteville, participated. The Save Barton Creek Association also sponsored a trip for Jack to Peru, where he worked to teach youngsters there about monitoring pollutants in waterways.

In addition to his work with the river watch, Jack was a member of the city’s Environmental Board for many years, serving as chair for several of those years.

His wife was elected to City Council, where she served from 1993 to 2005. After stepping down from Council, Jackie worked for several small businesses. However, after Jack had a stroke several years ago she quit work to care for him, and is now facing medical bills and other expenses. (The city provides no pension for Council members.) Alfred Stanley, a longtime friend of the Goodmans, has set up a GoFundMe page to help the family.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here. This story has been changed since publication to correct the assertion that Goodman was the longest-serving Council member.

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