Longtime resident Joan Goodwin has served in the community throughout her life as a volunteer for many organizations, including as a booster for high school sports teams.
Having raised her family in the city, she became involved in the day-to-day events of life in Foxboro.
Goodwin, now 87, affectionately called “Joanie” by many, was honored with the Massachusetts Heroine Award in 2021 and received a service award from the Massachusetts Teachers Association, recognizing her service to the community as a transportation coordinator. Before Joan retired in 2009, she was a school bus driver and transportation manager.
But for her, it’s not about awards.
Joan said she enjoys doing community service because she can give back what they all gave to her family.
It’s something she instilled in her children who, now adults, have continued in the community.
Joan, who grew up in Dover where her high school graduating class was just 5 people – 3 boys and 2 girls – in 1952, moved to Foxboro the same year she graduated from high school. She lived with her Aunt Ellie and her husband Lester Goodwin for a few years while working at the Foxboro Company.
She and her husband Ken Goodwin Sr., who died in 2006, had 5 children, however, her daughter Nadine Spencer died in 2011. She has 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, 3 of whom are on the way.
His service in the community included his work in the school system.
“I drove a bus for over 40 years. One of my greatest joys as a bus driver was the children and we called them ‘precious cargo,'” Joan said.
She has always considered Foxboro to be one of the best towns in which to raise your children.
Joan said the joy of serving others comes from how she was raised and her faith.
“My faith is the beginning of everything I’ve been involved in. It’s where I draw my strength to get involved. My church has given me great strength along with the people of St. Mark’s and the community of Foxboro,” Joan said.
Cheryl said her mother got involved in the community when she and her siblings got involved in sports, church, scouting and other activities. Joan started helping out with Foxboro Midget Football & Cheerleading and Sunday School at St. Mark’s Church.
Her involvement began in the late 60s, early 70s, when her children were young, but even as they got older and left the programs, Joan remained involved, long before her grandchildren were involved in the same programs.
Daughter Cheryl said her mother played basketball and softball in her youth and often joked that even at 5’1” tall she never backed down from an opponent, even if he was a foot taller than her. She said, jokingly, that she thinks her children and grandchildren get their athletic abilities from her.
“Many know her from sports, such as football, basketball, softball, etc., but her heart lies in her Protestant faith and her greatest involvement would be serving God and her parish at St. Mark’s Church. She truly believes that God put her on this Earth for a reason and that was to share her love of community and kindness with the world,” Cheryl said.
She has been on several pilgrimages throughout her life, one being the walk to Selma, AL, with Martin Luther King Jr. Cheryl said she remembers as a child when her mother visited classrooms to talk about her experience on this specific walk and all the amazing people she met and learned from.
Joan made another pilgrimage to Russia, where she interacted with people who celebrated their love of God in a way similar to her. This opportunity brought together people from all over the world. Jeanne also made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where she was able to visit the Holy Land, which is one of the greatest moments of her life.
Cheryl says her mom doesn’t judge people.
“She’s kind, she’s a breath of fresh air. She’s never angry and always happy. She loves unconditionally. Family is so important to her, and she constantly tells her family how proud she is. , what she loves about them, and how they’ve made her life so fulfilling,” Cheryl said.
Juliette Petrillo, a volunteer parent mom who has been involved in football in town for 10 years and has become a huge fan of Joan, said: “Joan Goodwin is considered Mrs. Foxboro and she has been the biggest football fan in town. She has been involved in football at all levels for several decades.”
Petrillo said last year that the Football Boosters touchdown club dedicated its annual football program to Joan.
Her involvement in the program continues to be recognized despite her declining health over the past year. Joan was recently released from Maples Rehabilitation Center in Wrentham. Upon arriving home, the boosters and crew learned she was looking for company, so the boys from the varsity team — Dylan Kerrigan Ryan Addeche ben Ricketts Dylan Gordon, Erik Kristenson, Andrew Finn, Jack Sugrue , Aidan Hughes, Shane Philbin, Mark Jansen, Steven Bridges, Steven Petrillo and Tommy Sharkey – gathered and went for a brief visit from outside his sliding glass door, bringing him flowers and a chat.
When Cheryl asked about the varsity football team visit, Joan simply replied, “Come on, Warriors.”
Cheryl said the visit certainly made her happy.
“It didn’t surprise me because the football program has always treated my mum so kindly, from Coach Martinelli to her players, past and present. The boys know Mrs Goodwin is always cheering them on, so it was their appreciation.
Cheryl’s daughter, Shannon Suess, said that since she was little, her family has been involved in the community, whether through school, youth sports and charities like Relay for Life.
“We always got our hands on something. My grandmother instilled in me a love of helping others since I was a child. I remember being impressed by her volunteering at the concession stands, leading bus safety talks, collecting donations for pantry food, among dozens of other things,” Shannon said.
She said her grandmother knew everyone she spoke to, and that Shannon’s love for Foxboro and its community stemmed directly from her grandmother.
“She’s so proud of this town and its people and so am I,” said Shannon, who teaches first grade at Foxboro, volunteers with Youth Football and Cheerleading as vice president and coaches varsity softball at Foxboro High.
She also works for Foxboro Recreation during the summer.
“I participate in as many local events, games and programs as possible. I am truly blessed to be the granddaughter of Mrs. Foxboro herself,” Shannon said.