Brian Goetzman: Charm, drive and dedication

Published 11:02 pm Saturday, January 21, 2012

Brian Goetzman is this week’s Picayune Item Super Senior. He is known for his big smile, sense of humor, loyalty, dedication to his job, faith and friends. His friendships span decades and as a member of the police security patrol at Picayune High School he is a considered an asset to both the force and student body.

As his school friend Chancery Clerk, David Earl Johnson, says, “He deserves every honor that can be given to him because he has overcome what others would call insurmountable by pushing himself and always with a smile.”

Goetzman says, “I believe in saying thank you. I believe in letting a lady enter the room first. I believe in being a gentleman.”

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Don’t let the disarming smile, southern charm, flashy scooter or the cerebral palsy distract you; Goetzman is watching you and sizing you up.

His ability to size people up and read their reactions has been a lifelong asset he developed at early age and one that he has gone on to successfully use while interviewing people for police investigations and at Picayune Memorial High School (PMHS) as well as in his personal life.

“I went to live at a school in Jackson for crippled children from the time I was a toddler until the age of eight when I learned to walk. I got to see my parents once every two weeks. It was a really hard time for me. But, it made me mature at a very fast pace and it made me tough. I have never held back from doing something because it was hard. I had no idea that people with cerebral palsy didn’t go to college or attend athletic games and contribute to the team. I just didn’t know that so it didn’t get in my way,” Goetzman says.

Lt. Lamar Thompson head of PMHS security says, “He is my right hand man, sick— whatever, it doesn’t matter; he is going to come to work. He is reliable. Even with the flu, he hangs in there and is very dedicated to his job and our school.

He goes everywhere on his scooter so when it will be pouring rain, you would think that he wouldn’t be here, but here he comes on his scooter. He is independent. He does his thing.

“He has a great sense of humor, too. He tells me not to get old cause because it is tough to get up and down when you get old.”

Thompson laughs but then gets serious when he says, “The kids love him; I think his biggest draw with them is he is genuine. He will sit in the lobby and he will be surrounded by kids waiting to see him.

“He loves Mississippi State so the kids will sometimes tease him or they will put Ole Miss stickers on his scooter. He will find out who did it (he always does) and let them know that he knows. Lots of laughter and love goes both ways.”

Goetzman says, “I go to see all of the freshman classes at the beginning of the year. I introduce myself to the kids and at first they aren’t sure what to think about me but then they become more comfortable and before you know it they will look me up to talk or just say hello.”

His ability to connect to people of widely varying ages can be attributed to the facts that he sizes them up, he is sincere and he knows that everyone has vulnerability  (even if they do not know they it themselves).

“I know that most people are good and I believe that until they show me they differently and that they do not care to change … it goes back to the old ‘you can lead a horse to water’ saying.”

His love for the students and desire to honor his mother led him to partner with his friend Freddie Jordan to give a scholarship in both of their mother’s names.

“I save over the year to donate my $500 and Freddie does too. It means a lot to each of us to do this.”

This scholarship is just one example of he big heart for others.

As Johnson says, “He’s got a heart as big as any person that I have ever known. He is full of self motivation and cuts himself no slack when it comes to a challenge or accomplishment.

“He has outstanding personality; I just can’t say enough about what a wonderful and inspiring person he is.

“I went to college with him and we would detour him in different directions from where he needed to go just to give him a hard time. We would pick on each other all of the time. He was one of us and he was never one to sit around and take advantage of the system; he went out and pursued excellence in every area he could.”

City Manager Jim Luke says, “Brian Goetzman Is an inspiration to all that have been blessed to know him. I count on his advice at City Hall now, just as I have so many times in the past while serving as chief of police. He loves Picayune and Picayune loves Brian.”

Goetzman recalls how in 1974 he had brain surgery in New York.

“The city of Picayune raised $10,000 to help me pay the hospital costs and traveling expenses for the surgery. My goal was to have it and be home before the next ball game and I left the hospital early to do that very thing. When the game started, I was on the sideline.”

Going back to his belief in the importance of saying “thank you,” Goetzman says, “I have an aide named Martha Mooney and I would like to publicly thank her for all that she does for me. She helps me up every morning and helps me get in bed each night.

“Also, the state, city and force have been very good to me. I thank them for allowing me to share my talents and contribute to the place and people that I love. My belief is that if you quit working you will die sooner. You always need a reason to get up. I have had 61 years of having a reason to get up and I am thankful for that.”

Police Chief Brian Dawsey says, “I have known him since I was a little boy. He used to come visit my older sister who went to school with him.

“When I went to work for the police force in 2003, he worked with me the whole time. There is not a better person. He acts like a big brother. He tells me when I miss church.

“He is really smart and a great role model. He has a degree in political science from Mississippi State. He is a blessing to this department, this city and these kids. He is always there for anyone who needs him. Everybody at this department loves him to death. He is one of us and we are all proud that he is.”

The “Picayune Item” thanks Brian Goetzman for sharing his story, motivation and inspirational spirit with us for this column. He is truly a Super Senior.

[Editor’s note: Is there someone you would like for us to consider for our Super Senior feature? Send us an email or fax with details, including your contact information to: or fax 601-798-8602.]