A Colleague and a Mentor

Sometimes you don’t really know how lucky you are to have had someone in your life until a few years have passed. For me, that person is Mark G. Goode III. From the moment we met on my first day of work at Kimley-Horn, an engineering firm in Dallas, Texas, I could tell that Mark was different in a weird and quirky way. Mark wasn’t my direct supervisor, but he instantly took me under his wing and I was honored to work on his projects whenever I got the chance. He really brought in the most interesting transportation work in Dallas, and he shaped who and where I am in my career. I’m not really sure how he won the projects in the first place since his first reaction to all of my questions were “I have no idea, that’s for you to figure out”. I don’t think he used the same line in front of clients when he was proposing on the projects.

Mark had these special tendencies about him. He was a little too honest – like that time he told me he had a little bit too much chianti last night and ordered a new kayak. He was a little forgetful – like those times he would walk down the office hallway, pause for a second, then turn around as if he had forgotten where he was going and had no choice but to turn back. He sometimes needed help opening Excel spreadsheets or spelling certain words. Even though he was 68 and probably didn’t need to work anymore, he was still carrying on because he loved what he did.

Mark was more than forty years older than me, but he would always introduce me at meetings as his “colleague”. He didn’t have an ego. We worked on some of the most high-profile jobs in Dallas county including the McKinney-Cole two-way conversion study where we determined it was feasible to convert two, one-way streets to two-way operation to slow traffic down in Uptown Dallas. We also worked on the Knox Street road diet study, where we proved it was possible to reduce a lane of traffic to provide sidewalks and bike lanes. We abandoned streets together, like Live Oak Street. The abandonment allowed two vacant lots to merge together across the defunct road to create Pacific Plaza, a community park in the heart of Downtown Dallas. These projects were the highlight of my Dallas career and introduced me to some of the most progressive thinkers of the area. I’m not sure how I ended up so lucky to be in the same room as them, but Mark trusted me with more responsibility than I feel like I should have had.

Outside of work, Mark loved his family. They meant everything to him and he was constantly talking about them. He had a way of integrating his life together that made him all the more personable. We even rode bikes together every Sunday in the fall and called it the “Dallas Underground Ride” where we scoped out ways to make Dallas more bike friendly. This was the kind of person he was, putting himself out there to better understand his work and the world. When I told him I wanted to relocate to California, he sat me down and asked if there was anything the team was doing wrong that was influencing my decision. I replied no and that this was a personal decision more than anything, and while he was saddened by my decision, he followed it with a personal account about how he and his wife almost moved to Italy when they were young and that he totally understood. Later, once I made it California, he called me up and told me that he was going to visit and he wanted to go sailing with me. While this opportunity never came, I know his word is good for it and we’ll get that chance again.

Mark taught me a lot about transportation engineering that I’ll forever be grateful for. He still influences me today in how I approach my work and reminds me to not take it all so seriously and to make sure to have some fun along the way. November 15th marked two years since his passing from a very rapid death due to stomach cancer. I wish we had talked more before he passed, but Mark was so tough that I just somehow assumed he was going to come back from it stronger than ever. Till we ride again, Mark.

Memories from a Dallas Underground Ride in 2016. Photos by Angga.

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