Video Information: An Interview with Frances Goff by Don Macon, July 7, 1977
Interview Processed by: Jim Thompson, HRC Volunteer, Summer 2019
Family Background and Early Exposure to a Texas Political Figure
Childhood Interactions with Noteworthy Guests at the Goff Hotel
Early Interest and Experience in Texas State Politics
Ms. Goff’s Texas Senate Appropriations Committee Work and the Legislative Effort to Create a Cancer Hospital in Texas
Texas Legislators Who Were Important Supporters of the MD Anderson Cancer Hospital
Review and Set Up of Part 2 of the Interview
Service in the US Military During World War II
Return to Civilian Work for the Texas Board of Control, and Initial Interaction with MD Anderson Cancer Hospital Director Dr. R. Lee Clark
Early Funding Efforts on Behalf of MD Anderson Cancer Hospital and Discussion, Aided by Pictures, of the Baker Estate Facilities
Fundraising Efforts for, and Supporters of, MD Anderson’s Location Within The Texas Medical Center
Review and Set Up of Part 3 of the Interview
MD Anderson Architecture, Interior Furnishings, and Expansions
MD Anderson Print Shop, Phone System, Event Planning, Expansion Oversight
The American Legion Auxillary’s Texas Girls State
Awards and Hanging Photographs in Ms. Goff’s Office
Start of video: Frances Goff was born July 16, 1916 in Kenedy, Texas. Her paternal grandfather came to Texas from Peterborough England and was employed by the railroad east of San Antonio. Her paternal grandmother was from Yorktown, Texas where the couple met and were married. Frances’ parents, Alfred T. Goff and Grace Ingram Goff, divorced when she was 2 years old. Her mother then married “a Stripling from east Texas” (G.G. Stripling) and Frances lived with her in Center, Texas. At that time she met several interesting people, among them was the loquacious future Texas State Senator Wardlow Lane who she listened to her mother, who “was a pretty good conversationalist,” exchange stories with.
Frances’ father was an executive with the Mobil Oil Company in San Antonio. When Frances was 13 years old, her mother died. Subsequently she went to live with her paternal grandparents, who owned and operated the Goff Hotel in Kenedy, Texas, which was the “center of attraction in Kenedy.” While living in Kenedy with her grandparents, Ms. Goff met several notable people staying at the hotel, like Dr. R. Lee Clark through his sister Dorothy Clark husband Dr. John William “Jack” Worsham, that were staying at the hotel while investigating opening a hospital in Kennedy, Texas. Ms. Goff became and remained “very, very dear friends” with the Worshams. Along with Junction County Attorney Coke Stevenson, who would later become Governor of Texas, other politically-active guests at the hotel had conversations with Ms. Goff.
While attending the San Antonio Business College, Ms. Goff heard very interesting stories about the Texas Legislature which furthered her interest in politics. Then while working for the Kenedy Chamber of Commerce, she met, and was asked to be an assistant to for the 1937 legislative session, Texas House of Representatives 79th district representative Helmuth H. Schuenemann, whose family Ms. Goff knew from the Schuenemann Law Office in the same building. During this “very rewarding experience,” in addition to secretarial skills, an assistant needed to be able to relate to the constituents, know all of the members of the legislature, and be “jack of all trades” in supporting the research, procedures, bill creation, etc. Next, while working for a member of the Texas Legislature in San Antonio, Ms. Goff received a call from Texas Governor Wilbert Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, who needed someone who knew Texas legislative procedure and the members of the Texas Legislature, to aid in governor improving his rapport with the members. After working in a chaotic environment for the Governor O’Daniel, who was a notorious procrastinator, she was “fired” for being “too friendly with the press.” Ms. Goff considered that firing “one of the greatest recommendations I’ve ever had.”
In 1943, while working for Edward Weaver More, a member of the Texas Senate from Harris County, Ms. Goff participated in writing the bill that placed the Houston Dental College within the University of Texas. At this time Ms. Goff met Dr. Frederick C. Elliot, who was dean of the Houston Dental College, for the first time and “remained a very dear friend ever since.” Prior to this, early in the 1941 Texas legislative session when Ms. Goff was “fired” by Governor O’Daniel, “word had gotten around pretty well about it.” W.O. Reed, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the Texas House of Representatives, asked Frances to work with him as the Secretary and Budget Officer of the Texas House of Representatives. In the 1941 session, House Bill 268 was introduced to create a cancer hospital, and place it under the University of Texas Board of Regents. At this time the wife of the President of the Texas Senate and future Texas Governor Coke R. Stevenson, Fay Stevenson, was “desperately ill with cancer” and was living in the Lt. Governors office in the apartment at the rear of senate. Ms. Goff felt Ms. Stevenson’s illness and high regard by legislative members played an important emotional part in the passing of H.B. 268 out of committee during a hearing one night, and ultimately it’s passage by the legislature.
The 1947 Texas Legislature was the first legislature that Dr. R. Lee Clark, Director and Surgeon in Chief of MD Anderson, would work with. Some noteworthy Texas Legislative friends and supporters of MD Anderson over the years were: Lt. Governor Alan Shivers, Senate Finance Committee Chairmen Wardlaw Lane, A.M. Akin “Mr. Education” (who lost his father to cancer), Jim Taylor who Ms. Goff worked with as Senate Budget Officer, Senator Grady Hazelwood, who was close to Dr. R. Lee Clark, and Senator Rudolph Winert, Dean of the Senate, who Ms. Goff knew through her father when he was an attorney for Mobil Oil Company when Ms. Goff’s father was head of development there.
Review of set up of Part 2 of the video interview.
Railroad Commisioner Jerry Sadler requested the position of Personnel Director be opened for a segment of the Realroad Commision and offered Ms. Goff the position, which she accepted. Following work at the Railroad Commission, Ms. Goff then joined the Board of Control at the request of Chairman Judge Weaver H. Baker, where work was done on the governor’s budget. After December 7, 1941, Ms. Goff became a member of the Women’s Motor Corps (American Voluntary Women’s Corps) in Austin, and at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio would “break in” trucks, jeeps, and other vehicles along with other corps members. Joined the Women’s Army Auxillary Corps (WAAC) at Camp Swift and went to Fort Oglethorpe for basic training in Georgia, then returned to Dallas Love Field as a part of the Fifth Ferrying Group, Air Transport Command. After a reorganization, the re-assigned Colonel [Lannigan]? hand-picked Ms. Goff among all the women on the base to work in his office, which Ms. Goff enjoyed the long hours of work and association with his wife. After Colonel Lannigan’s heart attack, Ms. Goff was transferred to the Air Transport Command Headquarters in Washington D.C., and then on July 2, 1946 Ms. Goff was honorably discharged.
Dr. R. Lee Clark was in the military, stationed in San Antonio, and was creating an airforce hospital. Dr. Clark got a call from Theophilus Painter about a role as Director of MD Anderson Cancer Hospital and accepted, whereupon discovered several problems that needed solving, one of which was funding. Concurrently, shortly after returning to work in civilian life as the Budget Director for the Board of Control, Ms. Goff led the first printed delivery of the budget per idea of boardmember Hall Logan. It was through much work and the first use of multilith offset printers housed in the Texas Highways Department printing plant; the effort achieved the first on-time budget delivery to the Texas Legislature by the December 15th deadline. During this time, Dorothy Clark Worsham, Dr. R. Lee Clark’s sister, called Ms. Goff about going to work for MD Anderson, as Dr. Clark was a novice in dealing with the legislature and could use some guidance. At the time Ms. Goff felt she could best help via her staying with the Texas Legislature in Austin, versus working for MD Anderson in Houston, but started to educate him on how to interact more effectively.
Summary of Dr. R. Lee Clark’s Texas legislative funding effort progression from the late 1940’s to early 1950’s, and legislation logistics like state cigarette tax revenue, and funding of the future MD Anderson Radiological Institute, during then Texas Leutenant Governor, and then Governor Allan Shivers’ tenure. Discussion of the initial location of MD Anderson Cancer Hospital and Tumor Institute at the Baker Estate on 2310 Baldwin Street facilities with some functional areas identified. On September 1, 1951 Ms. Goff agreed to join MD Anderson. The Baker Estate building was beautiful, but also cramped and initially unairconditioned.
Farnsworth & Chambers Company, a construction company contracted to build the East Nursing Wing of MD Anderson Cancer Hospital, despite escalating materials costs due to the Korean War, held pricing “firm” for years while funding was pending, which Dr. R Lee Clark thought was critical to MD Anderson’s evolution. James Anderson, a nephew of the MD Anderson Foundation namesake, was a cancer patient and played a “vital role” in securing funds for MD Anderson Cancer Hospital from primarily Houston-area patrons when the Korean War-generated legislative funding crunch necessitated more non-legislative funding sources. Discussion of Ms. Goff’s successful efforts with volunteer “Mrs. [Henry Virginia Bailey, later Mrs. John Mule]? of Alpine, Texas,” aided by a hospital room models (shown in video) that were designed to fit in the trunk of Ms. Goff’s car, to solicit funding from sources throughout Texas.
Review of set up of Part 3 of the video interview.
Starting with the conclusion of the first phase of the new MD Anderson hospital in the Texas Medical Center in 1954, Ms. Goff talks about the architecture and interior furnishings. The genesis of the signature “pink marble” (initially “Georgia Pink” or Etowah, later “Marble Creek”) found in MD Anderson building construction was envisioned by Dr. R. Lee Clark, who when traveling years earlier through Georgia, saw the marble in a building at Emory University and thought it represented “sunrise and hope” and vowed someday to build something out of it. Subsequent additions and renovations, including the Gimbel Building, Lutheran Pavillion and Chapel are reviewed.
Ms. Goff’s other responsibilities over the years included supervision of the MD Anderson’s print shop quality control and growth, oversight of the greatly expanded and capable Centrex 2 phone system serving the University of Texas system at Houston, and conference event planning at the Shamrock Hilton among other locations, which occasionally included dancing with an enthusiastic dancer named Dr. Albert Bruce Sabin, who is best known for developing the oral polio vaccine. More discussion of renovations, consolidations and additions to MD Anderson with review of MD Anderson cancer care bed growth from 30 offsite beds housed at Hermann Hospital and Riverside General, formerly known as the Houston Negro Hospital, to a goal of 600 onsite beds upon completion of renovations discussed in this interview. Finally, a brief mention of private funding of MD Anderson after 1956, with the largest gift ever given (at the time of this interview) to MD Anderson by a couple named [The Johnsons]?.
Ms. Goff talks about the American Legion Auxillary-sponsored program Girls State of Texas and conversation with Captain [Billie Murray]? (in the Judge Advocates during World War II) about government authenticity within the program that led to Ms. Goff becoming the Director of Girls State. Having served over 25 years as Director, she discusses Girls State program content and selection criteria of girls that have completed their junior year in high school. Texas Girls State meets in Texas Lutheran College in Seguin, and while there, they tour and hold their Girls State government meetings in the Texas Legislature chambers in Austin.
Ms. Goff points to pictured wall of her office photographs of former Girls States Citizens and notes their current vocations. The interview then covers some of Ms. Goff’s recognitions and awards, which include: Honorary Citizen and Goodwill Ambassador of Seguin, Texas by Mayor Alfred H. Koebig, Dedicated Service Award from the American Legion Auxillary Blue Bonnet Girls State, Award in Grateful Appreciation from Girls State Staff & Citizens, Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Youth Conference, American Legion Auxiliary Life gold membership card, Women in Communications Matrix Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Community, 25 Years of Dedicated Service to Girls State Bicentennial plaque, and the first Citywide Honorary Member Beta Sigma Phi. Finally, photographs and drawings are shown of Ms. Goff’s close friend’s children, who Ms. Goff considered her “family.”