It’s been more than 22 years since Mary Goodloe died in the rushing waters that flooded McFarlin Boulevard in 1995, and her husband still struggles to find just one word to exemplify a woman who encompassed so much.
Mary Goodloe was a first-grade teacher, whose now-grown students vividly remember the Smurf village in her classroom; how she’d dress up like the Pink Panther; and when she’d pass out candy canes around Christmastime to spread joy around University Park Elementary School.
She is remembered as kind, as the type of woman who would sing in the halls, as creative, as fun, and as caring.
“Crazily joyful,” Robert Goodloe said about his late wife, as tears welled in his eyes.
“She was one of a kind,” her son David Goodloe added.
On an especially humid day in early October, friends and family of Mary Goodloe joined University Park officials to dedicate a plaque along McFarlin Bridge. Goodloe died in May 1995 when she and her husband were caught in a torrential rainstorm that flooded McFarlin Boulevard and washed their car away.
Robert Goodloe, who was pinned between the car and the guardrail, was rescued.
At that time, the water rose about 5.5 feet above the street. And ever since, the city has been working to fix the problem. Beacons now flash to warn residents near the creek to evacuate when the water rises past 6 feet above the static pool elevation.
Overlooking the picturesque view of the creek, resident Kirk Dooley said, “The one thing that’s important about this plaque and about this setting is that because of this, Mary Goodloe will never be forgotten.
“She will always be remembered in our hearts, but for generations to come, people who walk across this bridge will think of Mary and what a wonderful person she was.”
In 2014, city officials began a 13-month project to reconstruct that part of McFarlin Bridge and build a dam where water from Turtle Creek in Williams Park easily overruns its bank.
The project was fully completed in February 2017 and cost about $5.3 million, city officials said.
Mayor Olin Lane, who read a proclamation at the dedication, echoed Dooley’s sentiment, saying he is comforted by the fact that many of those who walk by the site will pause for a moment and remember a teacher who played a positive role in their lives.
“She deserved it,” Robert Goodloe said of the plaque. “Coming here brings back all sorts of memories … we were out there in that water over there, but it was the right thing to do, and I am glad it was done.
“I hope she won’t be forgotten, She was something great.”