Longtime State Rep. Tony Goolsby Dead at 86

Former State Rep. Tony Goolsby died Sept. 4 after a battle with cancer, his family said. He was 86.

Goolsby served as a state representative for two decades after being elected in 1988. While in the state house, he served as the chairman of the Committee on House Administration and vice chairman of the Committee on Higher Education.

Born Nov. 9, 1933, in Longview, he served in the U.S. Army before earning a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of North Texas. 

As a member of Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, he met his wife, Toppy, while he was serving as an usher. They married in 1971 and raised three daughters – Mellie, Cherrie, and Brooke.

My amazing Dad, Tony Goolsby, went to heaven on Friday, 9/4/2020. He was surrounded by my Mom (Toppy Goolsby), me…

Posted by Mellie Mathis on Sunday, September 6, 2020

After his tenure as a state representative, he continued to work as a lobbyist. He also opened his own insurance agency in the ‘80s, and had served as president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Dallas, on the board of directors at Pavillion Bank, and as the head of political actions for Independent Insurance Agents of Texas. 

He also received awards from the Texas Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Realtors, and the Texas Pediatric Society’s Child Advocacy Award.

He remained a lifelong member of Lovers Lane UMC, and he and his wife dedicated Goolsby Chapel at UNT.

“Tony’s favorite hobby was his friendships. His quick wit and sense of humor always got a laugh, but there was never a more loyal friend than Tony,” his obituary reads. “It didn’t matter if you were on top of the world or down on your luck–you knew you could count on Tony. He made a lasting impact on everyone he called a friend.”

News of his death brought forth a decidedly nonpartisan response across the political spectrum, which is unsurprising when you see that some of Goolsby’s last tweets were encouragement to Republican State Rep. Morgan Meyer, and to Democratic State Rep. Rafael Anchia.

A private burial was held Sept. 11, 2020, at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. A celebration of life in Dallas will be planned later.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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