Real Estate IS His Hobby

Story by Carolyn Cahill

When the Arkansas Realtor® Associations held its mid-year meeting at Russellville’s Lake Point Conference Center in June, it did so on the home turf of one of the association’s most influential leaders.

Realtor® Cliff Goodin of Russellville has a leadership resume that goes back some two decades. It includes a term as President in 1978, the same year he was named Arkansas Realtor® of the Year, a peer award considered the highest in the real estate industry.

Sara Lou Goodin, Cliff’s wife of 44 years, recalls the couple’s move to Russellville.

“Cliff was working for International Harvester in Little Rock when he was relocated to Russellville. At that time, Russellville was only a tiny dot on the map, located on state roads past the spot where the interstate ended at Morrilton,” she laughed.

“We moved to Russellville as they had begun filling Lake Dardanelle, and the interstate literally stopped here,” she added.

“I believe the population of Russellville was about 11,000 then, and that included 1,500 Tech students and faculty.”

Cliff, who was born in Bald Knob and graduated with a degree in agricultural engineering from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, had met and married Sara Lou at college. Together the couple began their early years, moving to Russellville and eventually becoming parents of two daughters – Gaye and Julie.

In 1971, Cliff obtained his first real estate license and begun working with Vernon Howard Real Estate – a five-year stint that culminated when Howard entered local politics and sold the business to Cliff. Cliff Goodin and Associates opened its doors as a full-service real estate company and have remained open to this day.

One of Cliff’s first moves as a real estate professional was to join the Russellville Board of Realtors®, the local arm of the Arkansas Realtors® Association (ARA) and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), both of which he became a member by virtue of being on the local board. For Real Estate licensees the three-way membership is indentified by the term ‘Realtor®’ – a membership mark owned by the NAR and licensed to the state associations and local Realtor® boards across the county.

Each Realtor® in the United States pledges to abide by the Realtors® Code of Ethics, an instrument that promulgates the Golden Rule as the standard for all life situations, a concept that fits Goodin like a hand in a glove, say his associates.

“Cliff has always insisted, first of all in himself, then in others who work with him, on an innate commitment to honesty and integrity,” echoed Sara Lou.

And she should know. As well as being married to the man himself, Sara Lou earned a real estate license in 1989 and worked with the firm for more than a dozen years before exiting to spend more time with family.

“Both Cliff and I especially enjoy watching the grandkids play golf,” Sara Lou said recently. “As for a hobby, Cliff doesn’t really have one, unless it would be watching the kids and grandkids.”

Years of wrangling real estate contracts, including one of his first – the acquisition of land upon which the first Russellville Wal-Mart was built – performed under the auspices of Vernon Howard – have changed dramatically.

“Back when Cliff first started in the business, he would be gone on the road without any way to contact him – no cell phone, no computer,” said his wife. “Now, over the past few years, that has dramatically changed the way he does business. Why, he’s even conducted business while on the golf course watching the kids and grandkids play,” she added laughing.

“Real Estate IS his ‘hobby,’” Sara Lou said.

Cliff has served as President of the Russellville Board of Realtors® numerous times, starting in 1975. He has chaired or served as a member of virtually every one of its committees, and can claim credit for starting many of them. He has been elected to the ARA Board of Directors as Zone Director in 1991 and 1993; district vice president, 1994; secretary-treasurer and President- elect. He has served on the Legislative Committee as chairman; the Political Affairs Committee Chair, Finance Committee chair, and as a member of the Issues Mobilization Committee.

In 1998, he was elected President of the ARA, a position that took over 1,000 hours of his volunteer time that year. He was a major proponent of getting the Fair Housing message out to each Realtor® in the State, and led the ARA into adoption of the Fair Housing Partnership Agreement between HUD. He was instrumental in formulating a headquarters-financing plan that allowed the $1 million® Realtor® building in Little Rock to be free and clear, paid off in five years. He was also instrumental in creating the Conway- Perry Counties Realtor® Board.

He served as a member of the Board of Directors of the NAR, attending many director’s meetings, legislative conferences, regional caucuses and roundtable discussion. He was named to a term of the Arkansas Real Estate Commission by the Governor and moved up the following year to serve as chairman. (The AREC is the State agency for real estate licensure and serves as a consumer advocate for the State’s real estate industry.)

Bob Balhorn, ARA government affairs director recalls Cliff’s work with the Arkansas Realtors® Political Action Committee:

“In every political situation, Cliff is fair, sharp-minded and impartial. His decisions are always based on professional, not personal, judgment.”

Years ago, Cliff aided a man whom he spotted standing on a street corner with his belongings on the back of a bicycle. As it turned out, the man was trying to get from a visit with his daughter in Wyoming back to his home in Waycross, Ga. He had a lengthy and costly delay, recovering from injuries he had received in an accident in Oklahoma. Cliff took him off the street, gave him lodging and a temporary job on a Cliff Goodin construction site, and bought and brought him food.

When the man earned enough money to get home, Cliff bought him a bus ticket and packed his bicycle so the man would not be totally broke when he arrived home. To this day, Cliff wonders about how the man is doing in Georgia – a man who, no doubt, remembers Cliff to this day.

A leader in local activities, Cliff has spearheaded industrial recruitment, improved the local retail climate, and aided in the development of recreational and leisure activities. He has continued a number of civic positions, serving as past Chairman of the Board of the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce in 1997.

The Goodin family, which includes a large number of past and present real estate associates, includes the couple’s daughters and their families: Gaye and Bucky Croom and their children, Libby and Tripp; and Julie and Greg Oxendine and the Oxendine children, Meagan and Harrison.

“We are a close-knit family,” Sara Lou explained. “We try to eat together at least once a week, and I usually cook. Or, at the very least, we try and meet up after everyone finishes their activities.”

Led by the hard-working example of their father, the entire Goodin family continues to make the River Valley a great place to live, work and play.

 

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