Henry Walton Goode, Sr.

H. W. Goode, Sr. portrait

Lockley, Fred. "History of the Columbia River Valley, From The Dalles to the Sea." Vol. 2. Chicago, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1928. p. 5.


The record of no business man of Portland has stood in larger measure as a synonym for honor and fairness than that of Henry Walton Goode. A spirit of marked enterprise ever characterized him in his business career and carried him into a prominent connection with large and important undertakings, and yet through all he maintained a spirit of fairness that won him the respect, admiration and enduring loyalty of employes and contemporaries alike. Long acquaintance with him meant stronger friendship, for his life in all of its various phases stood the test of intimate knowledge and of close association. His name is indelibly engravers upon the pages of Portland's history through his connection with the Portland Railroad Company and through his service as president of the Lewis and Clark Exposition.

A native of Indiana, Mr. Goode was born in Newcastle, September 26, 1862, a son of Walton and Lucy (Beck) Goode. The father was of English descent and the lineage could be traced back in direct line for over nine hundred years, the family in America being the Goodes of Virginia, one of the leading aristocratic families of that state. Walton Goode died when his son Henry was but seven years of age, but the mother is still living and is yet a resident of Indianapolis.

Educated in the public schools, Henry W. Goode entered the high school when twelve or thirteen years of age, and the record which he therein made was the highest in his class. At the age of fifteen years he left school to accept a position in the business world. Without the advantage of a college course he was largely a self-educated and self-made man, learning many valuable lessons in the school of experience and becoming in time a man of wide and comprehensive knowledge. He made rapid progress in the business world, his ability winning him promotion from time to time until at the age of nineteen years he was occupying the position of head bookkeeper with one of the largest wholesale grocery firms in Minneapolis. He later turned his attention to the electrical machinery business, at which he became an expert. The broad field that opened before him gave him ample scope for his energy and ambition - his dominant qualities. He displayed great thoroughness in everything which he undertook and laid thorough the foundation for the success which he achieved in later life. The period between 1885 and 1892 was devoted to service with the Westinghouse Electrical Manufacturing Company of Pittsburgh and the General Electric Company of New York.

On the 20th of November, 1890, Mr. Goode was united in marriage to Miss Edith Fairclough, a daughter of Henry W. and Minerva J. (Calkins) Fairclough, the wedding being celebrated in Chicago, Illinois.

The following year they came to Portland, and Mr. Goode accepted the position of vice president and general manager of the Portland General Electric Company. He was then but twenty-seven years of age. At that time the common stock was selling for only twenty cents on the dollar, but his splendid management, however, brought it up to par. For seven years he remained manager of the Portland General Electric Company. Owing to a matter of sentiment he hesitated to, accept the presidency, which showed the greatness of the man. In his position as vice president and general manager, however, his initiative spirit and his recognition of possibilities were brought into play. He saw the opportunities for a combination of forces and later consolidated all of the different electrical interests under the name of the Portland Railway, Light & Power Company, a thirty million dollar corporation, of which he became the active head and president. This included the Portland General Electric Company, the Portland Railway Company, and the Oregon Water Power & Railway Company, of all of which organizations Mr. Goode was made president at the time the merger was completed. The amalgamation of these interests occurred about 1906, and he continued at the head of the consolidated company until his death. His labors were instrumental in making the Portland Railway, Light & Power Company the great corporation which it is today, being one of the most important of this character in the country. He bent his energies to administrative direction and executive control, and regarded no detail of the business as too unimportant to engage his attention. In fact his thorough understanding of every phase of it, his previous practical training along electrical lines and his recognition of future possibilities were strong and dominant elements in the success which attended the mammoth corporation. After the death of Mr. Goode, Frederick Strauss, the well known banker and financier of New York, asked Mrs. Goode if she had ever heard the true story of how the New York interests had taken over the several properties which constitute the consolidation. Upon her replying "No," he said it was the distinct understanding that Henry W. Goode be made president and manager of the company.

While Mr. and Mrs. Goode were visiting the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904 he received a telegram requesting him to accept the presidency of the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland. He had no desire to do so, but his wife was anxious that he should. From St. Louis she went to Chicago and after her departure Mr. Goode received a telegram insisting upon his acceptance of the presidency. He wired Mrs. Goode that he would not take the place and she answered by telegram that she would be greatly disappointed if he did not. Acceding to her wishes, upon his return to the city he accepted and had charge of the fair for two years before it opened. At the time he remarked to Mrs. Goode that when the fair was over he would show the people that he was honest. He took full charge and gave the greater part of his time to the development of its interests. One of the notable features in connection with his work in behalf of the exposition was that after a delegation of Portland men failed to secure consent in Washington for the erection of the government building on the peninsula he went to the capital city, where he spent twelve or thirteen days, during which time he met Secretary Shaw and others, with whom the matter of location was discussed. The objection to the erection of the government building on the peninsula was that at times the land is overflowed by a rise of the river. Before going east, Mr. Goode studied the question thoroughly, looked up all the history and information which he could get on the subject and proved almost absolutely that 1905 was not the year in which an overflow might be anticipated. As a result of his labors consent of President Roosevelt and others in authority was secured and no one who visited the exposition will ever forget the beautiful effect produced by the location of the government building with the bridge of all nations connecting the peninsula with the main land. On that occasion President Roosevelt, impressed by the remarkable personality and ability of Mr. Goode, escorted him clear to the outer door and said : "Any man ought to be proud to shake hands with you." The exposition was not financed at as high a figure as some other fairs, yet he made of it a splendid success. His powers of management, his keen, clear discernment of needs and opportunities enabled him to so direct interests that the fair opened just at the moment planned, with everything finished and in good shape, notwithstanding that a big strike occurred among the laborers just two weeks before the exposition was to be inaugurated. During this strike Mr. Goode was advised by the city officials and his friends to be very careful in going around alone, as they were fearful that he might meet with personal injury or violence. He paid no heed to these injunctions but went out among the men and soon had them again at work. Kind words and just measures were employed and they recognized that Mr. Goode might be depended upon to further their interests. Not only in the business management of the fair did Mr. Goode gain wide recognition but also as the social head of the city during the summer of 1905. With the assistance of Mrs. Goode he entertained all of the leading citizens of the United States who attended the fair, held receptions and gave elaborate dinners. One of the most notable of the latter was held in honor of J. J. Hill, the railway magnate, on which occasion Caruso's full orchestra furnished the music. On "Portland Day" there was the largest attendance ever seen at a fair in proportion to the size of the city, there being over ninety thousand admissions to the grounds. Mr. Goode received a salary of twelve thousand dollars as president of the fair but spent all of this and more in entertaining those who officially visited the exposition, together with distinguished European and American citizens who visited it in an unofficial capacity. He also gave a dinner to five hundred working girls on the grounds and during this made one of the famous speeches which gained him prominence as an orator. Another large dinner was given in the New York building, on which occasion the entire Mormon choir surrounded the building and rendered a number of vocal selections. Mr. Goode closed the fair at twelve o'clock on the night designated from the outset. On that occasion he made another memorable speech, thanking the people for their cooperation and assistance and telling them that he considered that upon him as its president had been conferred as great an honor as any man could desire. He held his watch in his hand and exactly as midnight was struck he declared the fair closed and bade goodnight to the people. Those who visited the exposition can never forget the picture of the grounds, with their architectural adornment amid the fine setting of hills and mountains. No other American exposition has ever paid a dividend but under the management of Mr. Goode thirty-five per cent was turned over to the stockholders. At a dinner given in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Goode in his home in Washington, Hon. Joseph Cannon, speaker of the house, said: "It will go down in history that Mr. Goode had done what no, other man had done." On more than one occasion in public address Theodore Wilcox said: "No one ought to take credit for the success of our fair; it is due our president."

When his duties in this connection were ended Mr. Goode did not take the rest which many people advised but at once resumed his duties with the Portland Railway, Light & Power Company and under the continued strain his health became impaired. Moreover, labor troubles soon arose and no one else could have managed the situation as he did. A Mr. Burton of Chicago, a well known strike leader, came to Portland and tried to influence the men in the service of the company to go upon a strike. There were over seventeen hundred employes, but, recognizing the fact that they had in Mr. Goode a just, fair and considerate employer, they refused to follow the dictates of the labor leader. Mr. Burton then went back to Chicago but after about ten weeks returned, determined that the company's employes should strike. Because of their continued refusal he boycotted all of them and the men then dropped the union and joined a brotherhood with Mr. Goode at the head. C. A. Dolph, one of the prominent attorneys of Portland, said that these men did not drop the union for any reason except their friendship for Mr. Goode and took this means of expressing their loyalty to and regard for him. He had the love and friendship of all who knew him and especially those who worked for him. When he passed away some one mentioned to one of the motormen on the line that the president was dead. With astonishment and sorrow the motorman replied: "Not our boss, our friend?" It is said that he never walked past a dog without patting him on the head and saying: "Hello, old fellow!" Another instance of his great kindness is given in the story that he owned a poor old white horse which was very sick, and he hired two men to stay with the animal for three weeks and care for it until it died. "Man's inhumanity to man" had no part in his life. He was quick to recognize the good in others and to reward faithfulness and justice was one of his paramount features.

To Mr. and Mrs. Goode were born two children: Helen, who attended school in New York city and is now married; and Henry, a sketch of whom follows. In his family he was a devoted husband and father and found his greatest joy in ministering to the happiness of his wife and children. He had the highest ideals for his children and in his letters to his wife said: "Train them that their lives may be of service to their fellowmen."

That he might have needed rest, he went east and after an illness of only four days passed away at Atlantic City on Easter Sunday morning, the 1st of April, 1907. Something of the regard and honor in which he was everywhere held is indicated in the fact that five thousand dollars were sent to be expended upon flowers for the funeral, the money coming from his friends and admirers in all parts of the country, and at the time the funeral services were being held in Chicago all cars in Portland stopped for ten minutes. He was prominent in the Masonic fraternity, attaining the thirty-second degree, and also belonged to the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and other lodges. He likewise held membership in the Commercial Club, was both vice president and president of the Arlington Club and was popular in all social organizations. He was being talked of for senator at the time of his death and would have been accorded almost any honor, political or otherwise, that he desired. He was a man of fine personal appearance and while he attained to the position of one of the foremost business men of the northwest it was not alone his success that will make him remembered and honored for years to come but the greater and grander quality of humanity - that quality which recognizes the rights of other individuals, which seeks justice and fairness and will sacrifice personal interests rather than infringe upon the privilege of others. It is said that there is no better criterion of man's real nature than the honor which his employes entertain for him and judged by this standard Mr. Goode stood as a man among men, and to him were given as a spontaneous and free-will offering the respect and honor of hundreds who served him. At his death Mrs. Goode received hundreds of telegrams and letters not only from the most distinguished men of this nation but also from eminent men of Europe, expressing their deep sorrow. The feeling entertained for him by those who served on the board of directors of the Lewis and Clark Exposition was expressed in a most handsomely engraved memoir, which was sent to Mrs. Goode and which read:

"In the death of H. W. Goode, president of this corporation, the board of directors feel that the state of Oregon and the city of Portland have sustained an irreparable loss. To his unusual executive ability, his ready grasp of affairs, his generous spirit and uniform kindness toward all men was due the unsurpassed success of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, an achievement of national importance and in the conduct of which he endeared himself alike to associates and subordinates.

"A man of splendid public spirit, believing in the future of the state of his adoption he was ever ready to identify himself with measures of public benefit. Liberal in his benefactions, a sincere friend, an exemplary husband and father, his death in the prime of manhood and usefulness is no ordinary loss to the public or his friends and this board, composed of fellow workers and personal friends, desires to express its deepest grief at his death.

"Therefore, be it

"Resolved, that the board of directors of the Lewis and Clark Centennial American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair desires to record their unanimous assent to the foregoing expression of their regard and estimate of their coworker, and be it further

"Resolved, that this memorial be spread upon the records of the corporation and an engrossed copy be sent to the family of Mr. Goode."

Commenting editorially upon the death of Mr. Goode under the title "With his Work Undone," the Oregonian said: "When a man dies who has completed his three score years and ten there is mourning but no complaint. Far otherwise does it appear when a man like the late H. W. Goode is called to his account in the prime of life, in the pride of his strength and the vigor of his career. There is then a sense of power wasted, of blighted hopes and thwarted purposes.. So far as we can see from the lowly plane whereon we stand in this life there is no plan which untimely death helps to fulfill. Many men are hurried away into eternity with the problems of their lives unsolved, their ambitions unachieved and their work undone. The poet Keats, when he died, had but struck upon his lyre those first notes of surpassing sweetness whose passionate allurement will go to the end of time a question without an answer. When Byron perished at thirty-seven he had but just found his true voice. Had he lived longer he might have come to stand for the modern world, with its aspiration and rebellions, as Dante stands for the age of faith. Strange appears the destiny that stilled the voices of Byron, Keats and Shelley with a world of unuttered melody upon their lips. Alexander of Macedon perished with great undertakings teeming in his brain. However extensive the territory of heaven may be, it must be densely populated with eminent personages long before this time; while the need of the earth for ability and integrity becomes more crying every day. There may be a reason for greater character." F. M. Gilmore, of the San Francisco Call, wrote: "I don't know intelligence the premature cutting short of human existence must forever remain a problem and a mystery."

Simple yet great in its simplicity were the words of Theodore Wilcox: "We have lost our biggest man." Dr. K. A. J. McKenzie said: "I have never read about a greater character." F. M. Gilmore, of the San Francisco Call, wrote: "I don't know what I can say to you that can assuage your grief at the loss of such a husband. He has gone and left us - that is true - but he has left behind him the great mark that stamps the honored man. He leaves that magnificent heritage of nobility, of honesty of purpose, of sincerity of character, of love of home that makes his memory dear to every living soul - who ever came within his acquaintanceship. I feel that I have lost a very great and a very dear friend."

John Barrett, president of the International Bureau of American Republics, wrote: "Mr. Goode in my mind was a rare man - nay more, an extraordinary man of a kind which has too few representatives on the earth. His masterly brain, his keen executive capacity, his power to command and his gentleness with all caused everybody to admire and follow him. Portland and Oregon suffer an irreparable loss in his death, while all his friends will look in vain to find another to take his place."

Vice President Fairbanks sent several telegrams to Mrs. Goode in which he expressed his love for Mr. Goode and said he considered him one of the greatest men he had ever met.


Updated on 25 Jan 2007.