The Goodyear community comes together to remember Mayor Georgia Lord

Goodyear said goodbye to Mayor Georgia Lord in the park she helped bring to life.

Residents and leaders from across the Phoenix area gathered Friday for the Celebration of the Life of the Lord at Goodyear’s Civic Square Park.

Among them were her neighbors Maureen and Hess Lenstra.

The Lenstras spend their winters in Arizona and have chosen Goodyear as their second home. Maureen was devastated to learn of Lord’s death.

“It was her dream. She wanted to be there when it opened,” Maureen Lenstra said, looking at the park under construction and fighting back tears.

Goodyear Civic Square, slated to open in the summer, includes a 2-acre park for festivals and other gatherings, as well as a new city hall and library being finished nearby.

Lord had been working on a Civic Square proposal since 2006. After filing plans due to the Great Recession, she and the council resubmitted the plans in 2019.

They talked about politics, city business, their children and more, said Maureen Lenstra.

“She was a busy woman, but she always had time to chat.”

Lord, 83, died on December 12 at her Goodyear home after her health declined due to a fall.

She was first elected to council in 2005 and became mayor in 2011. She was re-elected to a second full term in 2017.

State and local leaders praise his legacy

“For greater things are yet to come and greater things are yet to be done in this city,” sang a gospel singer at the event.

At the celebration, Metro Phoenix leaders highlighted his accomplishments and the legacy Lord left at Goodyear.

Speakers included Governor Doug Ducey, members of the Goodyear City Council, former mayors of Buckeye, Gilbert and Glendale, and members of the business community.

“I am struck by the number of people Mayor Georgia Lord has touched in his life,” Ducey said. “Arizona won’t be the same without her.

He recognized his contribution to the growth of the town of West Valley.

It was the Lord’s dream to see the civic square completed and to hold the first meeting of the town council in its new chambers.

Goodyear Mayor Joe Pizzillo unveiled the plaque for the new library which will bear Lord’s name.

Avondale Mayor Kenn Weise delivered the eulogy and recalled how Lord had worked to grow and develop Goodyear and the West Valley.

He noted Lord’s skills at compromise after coming up with the idea to expand funding for State Route 30, a freeway that could relieve some Interstate 10 traffic jams.

Residents gather for a final goodbye

Katherine Miller has lived in the city since 2003 and has seen firsthand how Lord’s leadership has helped the city grow.

For four years, Miller volunteered with the city’s Arts and Culture Commission. Miller appreciated Lord’s contribution to the artistic community.

Miller remembers how Lord attended committee meetings and provided input.

“I just think she was a very warm and welcoming person. She just seemed to make you feel like part of the community,” Miller said.

Mother-son duo Julie and Peter Richard appreciated the work Lord did for the city and how they always got “the facts from her”.

“We think she’s done a hell of a good job at a time when it’s not easy,” Julie Richard said.

Peter Richard appreciated the way she kept the town running smoothly.

“Rest well, darling,” he said.

Family legacy projects announced

Kim Stewart, Lord’s eldest daughter, announced two family heirloom projects in memory of her mother.

The Lord family established a scholarship in Lord’s name at Franklin Pierce University, which opened at Goodyear in 2008.

The institution currently only offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Lord, who did not have a tertiary degree, received an honorary degree from the private university.

Stewart then introduced 11-year-old Abrax Saavedra, who dreams of becoming President of the United States. “I’m a Republican,” he told her.

Lord spoke with him for two hours in his office and gave the boy this advice.

“You must be the president of the people, not of the party,” said Saavedra Lord told him. “From there, you have to compromise to achieve our goals.”

This interaction inspired the creation of the Mayor’s Georgia T. Lord Awards for Arts, Culture and Civic Engagement. Saavedra will sit on the committee that will oversee the project, a city spokesperson said.

More pricing details will be announced in the future, Stewart said.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks the community to support these legacy projects.

Journalist Maritza Dominguez can be reached at [email protected] or 480-271-0646. Follow her on Twitter @maritzacdom.

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