Members Only Area
Bookmark and Share


GODDARD, CHARLES WALTER (1869–1927). Charles Walter Goddard, physician and public-health official, was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on March 14, 1869. He attended the University of Arkansas and the University of Louisville Medical School, where he completed his M.D. degree in 1894. He did postgraduate study in Chicago, New York, and New Orleans. He married Mary Earnest Boyd of Paynesville, Alabama, in 1892, and they had three children. Goddard moved his family to De Soto, Texas, in 1895 and began practicing medicine. He later moved to Holland, Texas, where he practiced medicine for the next eighteen years and, with other doctors representing different medical fields, organized a community clinic. This operation was one of the first attempts at organized group medicine in Texas.

During World War I Goddard was refused a commission because of his age but served on the Southern District Exemption Board. At the end of the war he organized the Benevolent War Risk Society, a group that began the movement to establish the American Legion Sanitarium at Kerrville (now the Veterans Affairs Medical Centerqv). Goddard moved to Austin around 1918, when he was appointed state health officer by Governor William P. Hobby. He held this post for two years, during which he established the Bureau of Child Hygiene and Communicable Diseases. He was also instrumental in organizing departments of health in sixty-five counties across Texas. In 1920 he oversaw the extermination of hordes of rats that carried bubonic plague in Galveston, Houston, Beaumont, and Port Arthur. This effort virtually eradicated plague in Texas. The same year Goddard accepted a position as director of the University of Texas Health Service, a position he held for six years; he was responsible for many improvements in the health care and living conditions of the students. His efficient organization of the UT Health Service was commended by university health directors nationwide.

Goddard was a member of the American Students Health Association and served as its vice president in 1925. He was active in organized-medicine activities at the local, state, and national levels. He helped found the Texas Federation for Health Education and served as its first president. He was a deacon and an elder in the Christian Church and a Mason. In 1926 he was given a leave of absence from the university so he could reorganize the Austin City Health Department. His goal was to make Austin a model for city health-care programs statewide. On March 14, 1927, shortly after being asked to resign from the Austin health Department, Goddard shot and seriously wounded the Austin city manager. He was arrested and shortly thereafter committed suicide in his jail cell with a small knife that had been missed in a hurried search after the shooting.


Austin American, March 15, 1927. Daily Texan, July 2, 1926. Texas State Journal of Medicine, May 1927.

Joseph R. Sanchez


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Joseph R. Sanchez, "GODDARD, CHARLES WALTER," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.