Wayland football coach Wayne Goodwin dies at 93

Wayne Goodwin was surprised by Wayland High School honoring him in 2013 and his late wife Doris (right) was a key figure in the celebration.

Wayne H. Goodwin, who coached junior high and Rocket football in Wayland for 46 years, died of complications from pneumonia and Covid-19 Tuesday afternoon at his home in Wayland.

Born Dec. 19, 1927, in Bad Axe, Mich., he had observed his 93rd birthday only 10 days before his death.

Goodwin grew up in Battle Creek and graduated from Battle Creek Central High School in 1945 before serving in the Army just after World War II ended. He married Doris Elaine Smith Young on Oct. 1, 1954, in Croton.

He brought his family to Wayland in August 1962 and lived in the same house on South Main Street for more than 58 years. He came here to work as a lineman for the O & A Electrical Cooperative and retired as a supervisor from Great Lakes Energy in December 1992.

Goodwin here enjoys a laugh with granddaughters Jessica Goodwin (left) and Alex Dennis.

Goodwin continued to work for Great Lakes as a consultant well into his 80s and the company’s service station near the corner of 133rd Avenue and South Main Street is named after him.

But it was coaching and singing for which he was best known.

He, Harold Keena and Gus Lehocky started the local Rocket football program in 1967 and he continued to coach with sons Gilbert and Doug when it became the 78ers program for Wayland junior high school football. He prowled the sidelines until 2012 and was honored the following winter by Wayland Union Schools for his service. He also was named Citizen of the Year by the Wayland Lions Club.

Goodwin also coached softball and youth baseball. He started with Little League and moved up to Babe Ruth League before moving over to coach the Super Sneakers recreation softball squad.

He was a pillar of the Congregational Church, which later became the United Church of Wayland, serving as chairman of the effort to build the new facility on East Superior Street. He was chairman of the Board of Trustees and Mission Council and was a sought-after baritone voice as a member of the church choir. He was famous for singing at many weddings, funerals and reunions.

All of his surviving children are graduates of Wayland High School, including stepchildren Leslie (Merle) Thompson, David T. (Coleen) Young, Mary Chrisman, biological children Gilbert (Jan) Goodwin, Donita (Tim) O’Callahan, Doug (Renee) Goodwin and Kelly (Scott) Dennis. All live in Wayland except Donita, who lives in Wyoming.

He is also survived by 16 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Goodwin was diagnosed with Covid-19 on Nov. 23, but he recovered. He was diagnosed with pneumonia in early December and did not recover. He was brought home to die in familiar surroundings, which he did, surrounded by his family, Dec. 29.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Doris, in February 2014, father, Don, in 1958, his mother, Marguerite, in 1983, a brother, Jerry, and sister, Jean.

Arrangements are still being made for a memorial service, but he will be laid to rest in Elmwood Cemetery next to Doris.



  • I am so glad that Wayne was my friend. He enriched my life and inspired me to be a better person. If the value of a man’s life is measured by the lives he touched, cherished, and changed, Wayne’s was a life of immeasurable value, greater than all the gold and jewels to be had on earth. We are poorer without his gentle soul among us.

  • Sorry Dave for the loss of your step dad .I believe he was more than that to you. A Man full of energy and love. He knew everyone who played for Him and followed many of them into adult life. And an influence on many for the good. Good people are hard to replace but easy to learn from lets all take a lesson from Mr Goodwin.

  • Mr Goodwin was a man that gave back to his community before giving back was a “thing”. My condolences to all of his family.

  • One of the reasons I became a coach myself was because I was able to learn from Coach Goodwin as one of his assistants in Rocket Football. He touched so many young lives and everyone who played for him was enriched by the experience. If only one tenth of his players come to his memorial service it would fill the Wayland bleachers. A great coach and an even greater man. I am just one of the many who owe him so very much.

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