Donald Goodell

Obituary of Donald Gene Goodell

Donald Gene Goodell joined his heavenly family on March 2, 2023.  He made his transition peacefully after bravely and gracefully enduring declining health in recent months.

Donald was born on July 12, 1930, in Bucoda, Washington to Val and Helen Goodell.  After living his first few years on the family ranch in Bucoda, his family moved to Pickardville, North Dakota where his dad managed a ranch.  Donald spent several years there and often reminisced of the childhood memories he had of growing up on the ranch in the middle of nowhere, going to a one room schoolhouse, and enduring long winter months of cold and snow.  While that life was a difficult one for his family, all his memories were fond ones.  His family then moved to Montana for about a year, then onto the Yelm and Olympia area for a short period of time, finally settling in Puyallup where he attended the sixth grade at Spinning Elementary. In the following years he attended Puyallup Junior and Senior High School, where he graduated in 1948.

Donald was always industrious and adventurous.  Growing up he held many jobs, including a Tacoma News Tribune paper route, working at the flower bulb farms in the Orting area, the Puyallup Berry Farmer’s Co-Op Cannery in Puyallup, as well as Brown and Haley in Tacoma.  He loved to fish and hunt and had many adventures doing so.  He learned to hunt with bow and arrow as well as with rifles. He even learned to make his own bow and arrows.  As his children grew up, he would take them to fish on various lakes in the Pierce and Thurston County area and would also go on hunting trips throughout the state.

Donald always loved the water and boats.  He joined the Sea Scouts during high school and was a member for years.  After graduating high school, he attended Bates Vocational School, graduating from their boatbuilding course.  That started his career in boatbuilding.  He worked at several of the boatyards in the Tacoma area.  Eventually, he started his own boat company with Les and Don Jones.  Their first business venture was building smaller wooden power boats under the Crestline Boats name, which then became Starlet Boats, which then became Jones-Goodell Yachts.  These boatbuilding companies became a significant part of the boatbuilding industry in the Puget Sound Region.  A skilled craftsman, in his own right, Donald mentored many others who went on to make significant contributions in the boating industry themselves. And as Jones-Goodell Yachts grew and expanded in the 1980’s and 90’s, the next generation of family members were brought into the business.


As Jones-Goodell Yachts became more successful in the custom yacht business, their reputation for building world class yachts became known throughout the USA.  During their peak years of business from the 1970’s thru the early ‘90’s, Jones-Goodell had upwards of 80 employees.  Their clients included many of the West Coast rich and famous businesspeople – including some in the entertainment industry.  Later in life, Donald became a Marine Surveyor.  He also co-owned Goodell Wood Furnishings with his son Michael.  Their combined expertise in custom wood fabrication was sought out by many and the business succeeded for many years.  Donald permanently retired in his early 80’s to enjoy time with his wife Patricia and their family.

Donald met the love of his life, Patricia Flaherty, while attending Puyallup High School.  They were married in October 1949 and celebrated 72 plus years of marriage before Patricia passed in March 2022.  They loved to spend time on the water cruising in their yachts.  Their favorite yacht was named after Patricia, the “Patricia E”.  They spent innumerable summers in the San Juans cruising and enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and Canada.  They also loved to go on ship cruises, making a multitude of lifetime memories as they saw the world from the water.  In addition to their cruises, they loved to travel the world by air and land.  Among their many trips, they especially enjoyed traveling to Ireland three times, Greece, and their dozens of trips to Hawaii.  Donald especially loved the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was his favorite place to go to relax and spend time with Patricia.  They also loved staying on Maui, and many times would combine visiting the two islands during their trips.

Donald was an active member of the Tacoma Yacht Club for several decades.  He was the Tacoma Yacht Club Commodore in 1987-1988, proudly representing the yacht club at dozens of events throughout the year he served as Commodore, with Patricia by his side.  They loved to dance at Yacht Club events, and their favorite song to dance to was “Elvira”.  Somewhere in Heaven they are dancing to that song, while clapping, hollering, and laughing as they have the time of their lives together.

Donald was a member of Summit United Methodist Church and attended service regularly for decades, where he worshiped with friends and family over those years.

Donald is survived by four children: Lonnie (Jim), Kathleen Soones, Daniel (Barbara), and Michael (Debra); six grandchildren: Heather (Alvin III), Holly (Paul), Joshua (Emily), Quin (Katelyn), Brooke (Kyle), and Jumah; and twelve great grandchildren: Alvin IV, Ama, Beckett, Edward, Fin, Jacob, Kadence, Killian, Makena, Nathaniel, Paisley, and Sosina.  He is also survived by his brother Harold (Annie), and sister Dorothy Staley (Dennis).


Donald was preceded in death by his wife Patricia, his parents Val and Helen, brothers Norvald and Jerrold, son-in-law Claude Soones, and granddaughter Marissa Goodell. A private family graveside service, as well as a family celebration of Donald’s life, will be held later this year.


Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength.  Donald was a gentle man and a gentleman, and his strength showed in his character and the life that he built for his family.  He was a selfless father who always managed to find time for his children as they grew up, providing love, support, and guidance along the way.

Donald deeply loved his wife Patricia and his family, and they loved him back.  He will be greatly missed. Our hearts are filled with loving memories of him that will stay with us forever. 


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We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Curnow Funeral Home & Cremation Service
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