John Goda didn’t grow up around horses and horse shows, but most who saw him at Friday Farm in Alpharetta would have never known.
A computer scientist who taught at Georgia Tech for more than 30 years, Goda fell in love with horses not long after he met the woman who would become his wife.
“He was introduced to horses when he met me because I was training horses up in New England,” said his wife, Barbara Kelly Goda. “We were both at the University of Massachusetts, and he would come help me when I showed horses up there, where I had a small training barn.”
After the couple married and moved to Atlanta, they worked non-horse related jobs and their family of two grew to include a son. But in the mid-‘70s they got back into the horse business, and soon moved to Alpharetta where they bought enough acreage for a horse farm. They named their training facility Friday Farm, because that was the one day of the week they could spend with the horses.
“This was the interesting part, he really got involved with various horse shows and associations,” his wife said. “He wasn’t just helping out and working on the farm, but he was active in the community.”
When Goda realized there were very few, if any, places locally for would-be riders to break into the horse show circuit, he jumped into action. Three or four barns, with the Godas in a leadership role, put together the Olde Milton Horse Show Circuit at Wills Park in Alpharetta.
“He just thought there should be a place here, for people who were just starting out, where people didn’t have to spend a lot of money and travel overnight,” his wife said.
But none of this was the plan when the couple moved to Georgia in the mid-’60s, she said.
“We were coming for two years so he could go to school at Tech,” Barb Goda said. “We never left.”
John Joseph Goda Jr., of Alpharetta, died Oct. 10 of complications from lung cancer. He was 75.
A funeral is planned for 2 p.m. Tuesday at Northside Funeral Directors, Roswell, which is also in charge of arrangements. Burial will follow at Green Lawn Cemetery, Roswell.
Goda, who grew up in Springfield, Mass., graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a bachelor’s and master’s degree. He came to Atlanta to pursue a doctorate in computer science, but got a full-time teaching job before he finished his degree. He retired around 2002, his wife said, “because there were so many things he wanted to do.” Most of those things revolved around activities in the horse community.
“Working with the horses gave him an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends,” said John J. Goda III. “I think when he retired from Tech, he missed working with his students, but working with the horses helped fill that gap.”
The elder Goda seemed to thrive in the behind-the-scenes work, said Rick Adams.
“I’ve worked with his at several horse shows, and he really enjoys making sure things run smoothly,” Adams said. “He would do whatever he could to lend a hand, but he never needed to be out front.”
In addition to his wife of 47 years and son, Goda is survived by two brothers, George Goda of Springfield, Mass., and Robert Goda of Santa Barbara, Calif.
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