By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
Sheila Goodman, perhaps better known as Shayla or simply Shay, was many things to her friends and family: A loving daughter, a doting big sister and a devoted friend.
Shayla, 18, died Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010, in an all-terrain vehicle accident on the sand dunes at Florence, Ore. Last Thursday a community gathered at Salem Evangelical Church to share memories and console one another at her memorial service.
The service was a testament to Shayla’s belief in eternal salvation, the intensity of youthful friendships and the familial ties that bind.
For her friends, she will be remembered as a carefree young woman who put smiles on faces.
“Driving in the car, wherever we were going, she’d turn the music all the way up, and she’d always have the windows down, just singing … kinda embracing everything that was going on every time we were driving around,” said Matt Almendinger, whose tribute song to Shayla, “One Love,” was played at the service.
He’s not kidding. A YouTube video shows Shayla and her friend Kylie Wooderson singing along with one of Almendinger’s songs. One after another, friends testified to Shayla’s zest for life and enthusiasm for friends.
Like most people her age, she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do for a career. But Judy Peterson, her guidance counselor at McNary High School, said she found an internship at an Adidas store in Woodburn satisfying.
But more than that, Peterson said, Shayla’s essays impacted her life as well.
“She would always talk about how other people helped her to get to where she was, and that they made her life whole,” Peterson said. “She just made a difference in my life. That’s the important part. Sometimes our students don’t realize what an impact they have on us. She did that.”
Annika Milks, a classmate of Shayla’s, said she’ll smile whenever she remembers Shayla’s performance in a money booth at a senior party. Shayla was a 2010 McNary graduate enrolled at Chemeketa Community College, with plans to attend the University of Oregon. Shayla played volleyball, soccer and basketball at McNary High.
“There’s a lot of happy memories,” Milks said.
Her uncle Nate recalled Shayla’s interest in law enforcement. Her father, Jeff Goodman, is a sergeant at the Keizer Police Department. Several dozen officers from Keizer and nearby agencies attended Thursday’s service.
“The Keizer Police Department is a family that has been deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of Shayla Goodman,” said Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns. “We have all come together to support the Goodman family during this very difficult time. We offer our love, support and prayers to them.”
The Keizer Police Officer’s Association has established the Sheila Goodman Memorial Scholarship Fund in her memory. Memorial contributions may be made there.
“She had such a strong interest in law enforcement and the process, with her dad being a police officer,” said Nate Goodman, Shayla’s uncle. “Most of the time she’d come back to her interest in pursuing her undergraduate in English and then going to law school. She had a strong interest in business as well, and excelled at just about everything she did.
“The police world is a really tight-knit community – I’d describe it as her having 50 dads, almost, that were looking out for her,” Nate added.
Her mother Lisbeth is a native of Panama – she and husband Jeff met there while he was in the U.S. Air Force – and Nate said Shayla embraced that heritage. For her 15th birthday, she visited her mother’s side of the family and had her quinceañera, a Latin American tradition commemorating a transition from girl to young woman.
“It was a huge celebration,” Nate said. “Spanish in the home is a big deal, and the culture is all around in the house, the food.”
Through the tears shed and heartbreak spoken aloud at the memorial, one after another spoke of the attention Shayla gave them, be it in-person visits for those nearby, a text message or chatting online; a weakness for MTV reality shows; and an infectious enthusiasm for life.
Shayla is survived by her parents, Lisbeth and Jeff; her brother, Marcos; and many family and friends.