It is with immense endearment that Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida remembers Rhoda Bess Goodson who died peacefully surrounded by her family and close friends on September 16, 2017. In her honor and memory, Joe Goodson, Rhoda’s brother and executor of her estate, donated $10,000 to CLSMF to continue to advance the cause of justice for vulnerable communities. Rhoda’s roots at CLSMF ran deep as she served on the board of directors for several years and was a past president. Many remember her as being an active, calm, and reassuring voice for her clients, friends, family, and the many non-profits she supported.
The Louisiana native moved to Daytona Beach in 1975, and after working as a teacher and insurance adjuster, Rhoda decided to pursue the practice of law. She earned her law degree from Florida State University and was admitted to The Florida Bar and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in 1985.
Rhoda practiced domestic and family law for many years and was known for her tenacious yet compassionate advocacy on behalf of her clients. In 2000, she became a partner at the Daytona Beach law firm Cobb Cole where her primary concern was establishing and maintaining a sense of dignity, both for the process of law and for the individuals and families it served. Rhoda was widely known for working to find compromise in stressful situations and attempting to preserve civility and fairness in family matters, which many considered to be her art.
A champion of pro bono legal work since the very start of her career, Rhoda was known for volunteering her services to residents in the community who could not afford to pay for legal help. Her most notable achievement was chairing CLSMF’s “Justice for All” campaign in 2009, which raised $300,000. At that time, Rhoda was referred to as “the philanthropy engine in this community,” and was named a “Trendsetter of Pro Bono Work.” In a Florida Trend article that same year, she stated: “I’ve been very blessed to have a comfortable life and a successful career. It’s important you give back to the community and make it a better place.”
In addition to serving on the board of directors at CLSMF, Rhoda guided the Chamber, Daytona Beach/Halifax Area, the Pace Center for Girls, the Junior League of Volusia County (Past President), the Children’s Advocacy Center (at that time called I-Care), the Daytona Beach Rotary, (through which she was named a Paul Harris Fellow, the highest Rotary honor, and served as President of the Rotary Club), the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens, the Volusia County Bar Association and the Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center Foundation Board.