Family celebrates grandfather’s legacy in Goynes Park

When 9-year-old Joshua Goynes visits Goynes Park, he sits on top of the sign with his grandfather’s name on it and traces the letters with his finger, said his father, Byron Goynes.

Goynes take his son to the park bearing his father’s name to fly remote-controlled airplanes and throw baseballs and footballs.

“He says, ‘Dad, one day I’ll be able to take my kids there, too,’ and it cracks me up,” Goynes said.

He said he remembers attending the dedication of Goynes Park, 3909 W. Washburn Road, on June 20, 1998, for his father, former North Las Vegas City Councilman Theron Goynes.

More than 200 people attended the dedication, and the family threw a celebration in the park afterward for the head of the family, said Theron Goynes’ wife, Naomi. She and her husband have lived in North Las Vegas for nearly 50 years, and both served in education. The park’s namesake is a retired elementary school principal who served 20 years on the City Council and 12 years as mayor pro tempore.

His son, Byron Goynes, said education continues to be his parents’ passion, and he’s glad to have their influence on his son. Joshua’s grandparents pick him up from school every day and make sure he completes his homework before sending him home to Byron Goynes to review the work.

“Most people don’t know how passionate he is still at the age of 83 about education and parents taking responsibility for raising their kids,” Byron Goynes said about his father.

His sister, current Mayor Pro Tempore and City Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown, said she remembers being proud of her father during the dedication ceremony and enjoyed seeing his work acknowledged. She said her father has influenced her role in education and government.

“He always has kind words to say about people. I always try to see the good in people, just like he does,” she said.

But Theron Goynes isn’t shy of the recognition. He said he’s proud of his legacy and his role in renaming Highland Elementary School for Las Vegas pioneer Kermit R. Booker Sr. and creating Martin Luther King Boulevard in 1989, which runs through much of the city.

Goynes was honored as the 1992 Public Official of the Year by the Nevada League of Cities and, in 2005, Theron H. & Naomi D. Goynes Elementary School was dedicated in their honor.

Still, he was overwhelmed by the park dedication, he said.

“This is a reward for all the work I’ve done, so I just had to say thank you. I deserve it,” he said. “I don’t have any regrets. In spite of going through the integration program, I came out ahead.”

Edward May, who was in elementary school when Goynes was a teacher in the 1960s, said he knew Goynes first as a no-nonsense mentor and community leader who demanded the best and then as a brother in the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. May said he admires Goynes for being a balanced family and spiritual man.

“Everything we’ve been involved in, I didn’t do it alone,” Goynes said. “Family always comes first. It was a team effort on everything.”

He said he’s frank about his accomplishments because he wants to pass along his community spirit to others. “I want everybody to feel like I do,” he said.

May said that celebrating Goynes’ success is a powerful reminder of where working hard can take you.

“He (Goynes) doesn’t forget where he comes from, but he’s also sure to enjoy his successes,” May said. “He enjoys life and appreciates people.”

Theron Goynes and his wife remain active in the Democratic Party and in community activism through their church.

The 10-acre park includes a lighted baseball diamond, sand volleyball court, playground, group shelter, walking and jogging trail and public restrooms.

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Laura Phelps at or 702-477-3839.

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