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Friends, family recall Vonnie Goss

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If only one word could be used to describe Vonnie Goss, perhaps it would be expressive.

Vonnie Goss (Submitted Photo)

A beloved family member and friend to many in Roswell and in other states when she passed away April 28 at 92, Naomi LaVaughn Bowden Goss spent much of her time singing and acting or directing a production or performing group.

At other times, her expressions took the form of professional and personal writings, including reviews of concerts for the Roswell Daily Record. She also was known by many for her heartfelt laughs and her smiles.

Goss and her husband of 63 years, James Earl Goss, moved to Roswell in 1985 after Vonnie had spent many years writing for military and public service organizations.

They had moved frequently up to that point, including to five different places in their first four years of marriage, and had enjoyed the adventures.

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“We got to live in places that many people pay big bucks to visit as tourists, and to me that was the hallmark,” said Jim, a retired World War II veteran.

Over their 34 years in Roswell, they both became an integral part of many Roswell organizations. Vonnie was a board member, key volunteer or performer with the First Church of the Nazarene, Noah’s Ark Preschool, the Roswell Symphony Orchestra, Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, the Singin’ Seniors of Senior Circle and the Roswell Community Little Theater.

Her love of performing apparently began early. She recalled in a previous press interview how much she enjoyed being an angel in a church Christmas pageant when she was 2. In Roswell, she performed in numerous church and Little Theater productions, with more than 200 credits to her name and with some saying that she was the best director the theater group ever had.

Church and Christian life were a big part of her life, in part because she had been raised by a father who was a pastor.

A pastor decribed her as “down to earth,” while theater players recalled her “firm” and “stern” direction.

“She never had problems filling rolls, finding people to audition, because she ran a tight ship,” said husband Jim. “If she set an audition for a certain time, she held the audition. If you weren’t there, too bad.”

Friends said she could sometimes have some pointed words for people, but, “Even if she said something mean, she did it in a funny way,” said Jane Rhinehart, a member of the Singin’ Seniors that Goss founded and directed for about 18 years until she began to experience some health issues a couple of years ago. The group performed at monthly birthday celebrations and holiday parties.

Susan Bellomo took over when Vonnie was unable to direct it.

“She built a really warm, caring community,” said Bellomo. “All the members are very caring about each other, and that could be credited in large part to her.”

Bellomo, Rhinehart and other members of the group describe Goss as “gracious,” “dignified” “giving.” Many of the Singin’ Seniors remember Goss inviting them or people who did not have family in the area to her home for Thanksgiving dinners.

MariFrank DaHarb, director of Senior Circle, in a tribute she wrote to Goss in a recent newsletter, noted that Goss had been a big part of Roswell in numerous ways. “Vonnie touched many, many lives and will really be missed,” DaHarb wrote. “If there is a board of directors in heaven, Vonnie will be on it. And the choir of angels has a new leader.”

Other members recalled how they envied her for being able to play music by ear and appreciated how she usually would give some historical background or interesting anecdotes about the music they sang, much of it originating around the 1920s.

Best friend Shirley Brown said she was a “true friend.”

“She had four great loves of her life,” she said, “love of God, love of husband, love of theater and love of music. She was beautiful inside and outside, and she was a busy lady, an introverted extrovert.”

At the May 3 memorial service at First Church of the Nazarene, Pastor Ron Ellington read some words Vonnie Goss had written for her friends and her family before her passing that assured them of her continuing love and urged them to move forward until they met again.

“I thank you for the love you each have shown,” the poem read in part. “But now it’s time to travel on alone. So grieve a while for me if you must. Then let your grief be comforted by trust. It’s only for a while that we must part, so bless the memories within your heart.”

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