Tarrant County, TXGenWeb
Vance Godbey is a landmark name in this corner of the county.He is best known for Vance Godbey's, his longtime restaurant on Jacksboro Highway in the city of Lakeside. Born on the North Side of Fort Worth, Mr. Godbey moved to the area in 1947 and started Godbey's Grocery. It was a neighborhood style market which sold meat, produce, and sundries. If he didn't have it, you didn't need it! Many of the neighborhood kids growing up in the area had worked there, as sackers or stockers.
He started the business from scratch, living in quarters in the back of his store for almost two years. His store still stands today, located at the north end of Cheyenne Trail in Indian Oaks across from the Lake Worth Elementary School.
He was very active in the community, being on the first City Council as Councilmember for Lake Worth for 4 years. He had to resign a new term because the City Charter required that Councilmembers must reside within city limits.
He also played a role in fire fighting in the area. Working with Gene Ritchman, the first Fire Chief, he was instrumental in helping him establish the first fire department for the City. He was a Lake Worth volunteer fireman from 1947 to 1959, alongside his friend, Dub Ray of Ray's Grocery.
Originally, the fire department was located at Godbeys Grocery. A fire alarm was mounted on top of his store, and if a fire was sighted, everyone knew to call the Grocery. Vance would then sound the siren. "We had a few house fires, but most of them were brush fires", said Vance. "We bought the first fire truck from the City of Fort Worth. It was a 1930's model - at least 20 years old. But it was a start", he added.
When Buddies moved into town in 1953, Vance felt (like other neighborhood groceries in the area) that the competition would be overwhelming. Mr. Godbey had to choose between fighting an uphill battle with this new "super" market, or going back to work for Consolidated Vultee. He chose to close his grocery. But not all was lost. Mr. Godbey opened up a BBQ stand in Buddies parking lot, which was quite successful. It was a small but permanent building which worked out well for both parties; Vance paid Buddies a monthly lease, and the location proved well for the BBQ.
But when Buddies sold out to Winn-Dixie, they did not want his BBQ Stand on the parking lot and cancelled his lease for another term. Vance once again had to start from scratch, but this time he had a little more capital. It was at this point, in 1955, that he founded and started Vance Godbey's Restaurant from his house on Jacksboro Highway. Like his grocery, he and his family had to live in the back of the house until business "evened" out.
The third time was the charmer. The business grew steadily over the years, and the customer base began to grow. They all helped out in the restaurant. The average family could enjoy a good down-home supper in a "semi country club atmosphere" with an outside swimming pool and a stunning view of Lake Worth. A catering service was added later. A setback occurred in 1962 when fire totaled the restaurant. But it was rebuilt, bigger and better than ever. In 1998, Vance retired, turning the family business over to his daughters Carol and CK.
As the community continued to give to him, Vance continued to give back to the community. He is known for feeding the hungry and lonely during holidays, and honored for helping firefighters near and far.
When the Lake Worth fire in the Precious Faith Church claimed the lives of two firefighters, Vance reopened the restaurant on Sundays to raise money to help the Collins and Dean families. Brian Collins and Phillip Dean worked for the Fort Worth Fire Department, but were performing as River Oaks volunteer firefighters when they were killed. Garry Sanders, a volunteer firefighter from Sansom Park, also died in the blaze. Vance also donated $46,400 from the meals to the Firefighters 500 Fund. He also donated a grand piano to the newly rebuilt Church. He also donated generously for the fallen NYC firefighters in the 9/11 terrorist attack. In 1999, He received the Congressional Certificate of Recognition from Rep. Kay Granger. Mr. Godbey has also been a Mason for 55 years, 48 of those as a Shriner.
Our special thanks to Vance Godbey for his contribution to this article.
Interview: Vance Godbey
This page was last modified 23 Feb 2003.
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