By Anne M. Amato
As Michael Goodgame's coffin was brought into Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Thursday, a Dixieland-style jazz band played "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."
Goodgame's father, Dan, would later explain why.
Goodgame, 20, was killed Feb. 28 in a Minnesota auto accident along with two fellow Carelton College students. They were on their way to an ultimate frisbee tournament when their sport utility vehicle skidded on an icy road and was hit by an oncoming tractor trailer truck.
Mourners filled the church for Thursday afternoon's hour-long memorial service, and an overflow crowd watched the service on closed circuit TV downstairs in the church's servery.
Michael was fondly remembered by five of his closest friends from Staples High School, where he graduated in 2011.
The girls -- Eva Hendricks, Sophie Dodd, Chloe Ellison, Amanda Long, Daniela Rae and Katy Blackburn -- stood at the altar and took turns sharing their remembrances of Michael.
One said he was her first boyfriend, another her first kiss. All agreed Michael was their best friend.
"There are no words" to describe what happened, one of the girls said. But, she added, Michael -- who was gifted with words -- would be able to. He would pull out a pad and pen and begin writing, she said.
They all recalled the hours spent together, just hanging out and watching videos and sometimes "coveting that one Corona." They even spent their Staples graduation night doing what they always did -- they just hung out together.
"We often would ask him why he liked hanging out with us," one of the girls said. He told them he just liked being with them.
"We were happy when he went to Carelton and finally started hanging out with guys," another said, drawing laughter from the gathering.
Michael's brother, Clayton Goodgame, read a selection from "The Path," which Michael wrote. It said: "Every few months, I become a new person. Not all at once, and not in a `born again' sort of way. It's a gradual transformation: over time, my thoughts, feelings and attitudes about the world and how I fit into it seem to shift."
Michael's father said his son was on his way to do something he loved when he died. Just weeks ago, Dan Goodgame said, he had dinner with Michael and James Adams, 20, of St. Paul, Minn., who was also killed in the accident. Read Full Article
He shared some tidbits of his son's life. "When he was young and just starting school -- kindergarten -- I asked him what he had learned that first day of school. His sons reply: "We're going to learn about math, fish and sex."
He said that his son was still considering what career path to take and recently was thinking about journalism. The way the father said it elicited laughter from the congregation.
As for the Dixieland band, Dan Goodgame explained that when Michael was little, they were in New Orleans and taking a walk, the boy holding his father's "callused hand." Then they heard happy music and turned to see people coming down the street -- almost skipping to the beat.
It was a New Orleans funeral.
Dan Goodgame wanted Thursday's memorial service to be a celebration of Michael's life. And a musical taste of New Orleans made it just that.