Bryghte Davis Godbold
Brigadier General, Ph.D., Innovator in Engineering, Education, and Civic Leadership
Inducted in 2003
The corners of the globe where Bryghte Davis Godbold has lived are the better for it. Able to see needs and resources and then to act forcefully, he has exercised compassionate wisdom in every setting: college, combat, business, and government. Throughout his long career, he has lived the ideal of the engineer in public service.
Born in Coy, near Selma, Dr. Godbold holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Auburn University. A Marine Corps commission followed his 1936 selection as a top-100 college graduate. When World War II began, Captain Godbold, an anti-aircraft expert, commanded a battery on Wake Island. Repelling Japanese attacks throughout a two-week siege, the Marines were finally defeated in an overwhelming assault. Godbold spent four years in Japanese prison camps. His men mined coal. Officers gardened, their crops feeding American prisoners. For Wake Island, Godbold received the Legion of Merit.
Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Godbold com-pleted a management degree at Stanford University in 1947 and was asked to modernize the USMC’s personnel system. He deployed computers, their inaugural use in military personnel administration, and was evaluating the system when the Korean War began. He served in the Inchon Landing and during the Chosin Reservoir fighting. Godbold earned medals for bravery and leadership for his service in Korea.
In 1951, now a Colonel, Godbold became deputy director of manpower requirements at the Pentagon, advising both Congress and the President. Later he commanded the famed Fourth Marines in Hawaii. A battle-ready regiment under Colonel Godbold, it posted the Corps’ best reenlistment rate; the Marine commandant saluted his brilliant leadership.
Retiring a Brigadier General in 1958, he became assistant to the chancellor of New York University, concurrently earning a doctorate in higher education. The Ford Foundation brought him to Purdue University two years later to debut a novel program, predecessor of satellite-based “distance education.” As manager of this “Midwest Program on Airborne Television,” Dr. Godbold, the engineer, placed TV transmitters at 23,000 feet in DC-6s to televise lessons to 2,000 schools; Dr. Godbold, the manager, prepared teachers to use the televised in-struction in their classrooms. His talents ensured engi-neering and educational success. This led to another project in higher education: coordinating six universities to provide closed-circuit-TV coursework for engineers at high-tech firms in Dallas-Fort Worth. While vice president of the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies (forerunner of The Univer-sity of Texas at Dallas), Dr. Godbold impressed Erik Jonsson, founder of Texas Instruments and mayor of Dallas. In 1965, he asked Godbold to lead “Goals for Dallas,” Jonsson’s plan for Dallas’s recovery from the effects of JFK’s assassination.
Through 1976, Dr. Godbold was executive director of “Goals,” transforming Dallas. 125,000 citizens set goals for the economy, health care, transportation, architecture, government, recreation, and culture. In seven years most “Goals” were met: DFW International Airport was built, a new city hall and library system created, a premier junior college system developed, Dallas’s repute in medicine attained, a symphony hall and new art museum founded, and a leading PBS station aired. Bryghte Godbold then be-came a consultant for “Goals” programs worldwide. In the 1980s, he led the Board of the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas. In another undertaking, he co-founded TV stations in Alabama and Georgia.
Dr. Godbold has been a leader in many Dallas civic groups, notably the Southwest Science Museum, YMCA, Texas Society of Architects (he was its first non-architect director), and the famous Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. With intelligence, integrity, determination, and cooperation, Dr. Godbold’s work has borne fruit that sustains and enhances lives as it improves society.
Bryghte Godbold and his wife, Patricia, travel extensively, garden avidly, and together enjoy their continuing active participation in civic and professional endeavors.