Dwight Eugene Garner, affectionately known as “Goodie”, passed away on Friday November 18, 2022. He was 58 years old.
Dwight was born on October 25, 1964 in San Francisco to Phillip and Sallye Garner. He grew up in Oakland with his three siblings, Felipe, Seleathia, and Dwayne Garner.
Dwight attended Stonehurst Elementary and King Estates Junior High as a child and later attended Skyline High School, where he excelled as a student athlete. He chose to pursue his passion for football and dominated the field throughout his high school running back career. As a senior, he scored five touchdowns in the 1981 Silver Bowl game and was named a first-team All-Oakland Athletic League.
Dwight attended UC Berkeley on an athletic scholarship and majored in political science. He is best known for his role in “The Play” during the Cal-Stanford football game on November 20, 1982. In the game-winning game, which came with seconds on the scoreboard, several Cal players, including Dwight, competed sideways at the football to achieve victory. Dwight was a key figure in what is considered one of the most extraordinary moments in collegiate sport in this historic upset.
A debate remains as to whether Dwight’s knee was down when he moved the football sideways and whether the resulting touchdown should have counted. He always maintained that his knee wasn’t down and that the verdict is on the field. Dwight was a humble man who rarely spoke about his claim to fame in the sport, but when interviewed on The Play, he recalled his role in the controversy with lightheartedness and good humor. He was also a diligent student and completed his studies in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree.
While Dwight was very interested in sports, what he loved most was his family. Raised by loving parents in a close-knit household of six in East Oakland, Dwight was an enthusiastic and responsible child who spent quality time with his family. One of his hobbies was singing, and in elementary school he formed a neighborhood band called The Green Potions. His sister fondly remembers his falsetto rendition of The Stylistics’ “You Make Me Feel Brand New.” Dwight cherished his childhood and continued to build on the values instilled in him as he grew older.
At the age of 15 he met Vida Haskins, his high school sweetheart. They married on April 18, 1987 and raised four children together: Phillip, Gabrielle, Danielle and David Garner. There aren’t enough words in the world to describe the father that was Dwight. He loved generously and did not skimp on showing every ounce of passion he had for his family. He was there for countless moments in his children’s lives. From births to birthdays, sports games, tribute ceremonies, field trips, performances, college dropouts, annual Disney family outings, jiu-jitsu tournaments and more, he’s always been there or a phone call away. In addition to fathering his own children, he was a father figure to the young men he mentored as coach of the American Youth Football League, and he served as the men’s ministry leader at his Christian community at Real Life Church. Dwight loved everyone around him and continually expanded his love to his communities, always opening his home and heart to youth and friends as if they were part of his family.
Dwight’s faith is his most powerful legacy. He brought to his role as Duty Manager the same intensity, passion and enthusiasm that he played football with. The name he wore most proudly was “Man of God.” Known for his infectious smile and a laugh that could light up a room, Dwight’s spirit, big heart, love, faith, passion and presence will be truly missed. He will forever be known as a man with a thunderous passion for God whose faith and love will affect his immediate and extended family for generations to come.
He was preceded by his father Phillip Garner and brother Chris Gulatt. Dwight leaves to celebrate his memories: his devoted and lovable wife, Vida Garner; two sons, Phillip and David; two daughters, Gabrielle and Danielle; two granddaughters, Carolinna and Leilani; mother, Sally Garner; two brothers, Felipe and Dwayne Garner; sister, Seleathia Garner; three uncles, Clarence, Charles (Chubby) and Jesse Lee; four aunts, Jannie, Shirley, Annie and Linda; as well as coaches, teammates and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Editor’s note: Countless remarkable lives are lived in Oakland. At The Oaklandside, you‘I’ve probably started seeing obituaries like this one, written by community members to honor their loved ones. Soon we will make it easy for readers to get in touch with us to share a memory. Kudos to our sister location, Berkeleyside, who have been providing this valuable service in Berkeley for 10 years.