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28 October 2005

A Tribute to JSU's 'Hot Dog Man' -
Humberto 'Bert' Godoy

Feb. 9, 1934 - Oct. 11, 2005

Mr. Bert Godoy, standing, second from right, poses with fellow JSC Cheerleaders in this scene from a 1957 yearbook.

Jacksonville State University's "hot dog man" -- Humberto "Bert" Godoy, an International House student from Guatemala City who graduated from Jacksonville State College in 1958 -- died Oct. 11 of cardiac arrest. He was 71 and lived in Guatemala.

"Dad really loved JSU. He always said the school gave him his first big 'chance' in life," said his daughter, Maria Godoy Hakim. "We have a yearbook photo of Dad in his JSU cheerleading uniform. He was too small to play football, but he cheered the players on and had many friends on the team."

To supplement his college funds, Mr. Godoy sold hot dogs at dormitories during exam time. As a result, Mr. Godoy became a respected, well-known figure who quickly gained many friends at JSU.

"His hot dog business was before the advent of the pizza delivery man," said Mrs. Godoy Hakim, who works as a news producer with NPR in Washington, D.C. "That's how Dad got to know so much of the student body."

Mr. Godoy had a supreme passion for the New York Yankees and a fondness for JSU.

"He was raised in Guatemala, poor but with a love of learning and a passion for the New York Yankees," Mrs. Godoy Hakim said. "He had a sheet working out complicated baseball stats on him when he died.

"How does a man who grew up thousands of miles away in Latin America develop an undying devotion to the Yankees? I think it had something to do with consistently being the best, decade after decade, no matter what life throws at you. It's how my Dad always lived his life, and like the Yankees, he had many, many fans.

"His smarts, strong work ethic, and determination to get closer to Yankee Stadium helped him win a full scholarship to Jacksonville State University. At JSU, despite the cultural and language barriers, he won over the student body and was voted most popular student."

Later, attending Syracuse University, also on full scholarship, Mr. Godoy met his future wife, Margarita Godoy Lafaurie. He received a master's in public administration and went on to work as an economist and public health administration expert for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), part of WHO, for more than three decades, with assignments in Peru, Bolivia, and Guatemala.

In the fall of 1980, Mr. Godoy survived a kidnapping attempt in Guatemala City and escaped to the United States, where he relocated in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Godoy Hakim remembers stories about her father's years at JSU.

"One was Dad's infamous spring break trip to Panama City with two JSU buddies, Gus Unger and Sam Black, who was a defensive end on the football team. Dad always recoiled from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and he would cite this trip as the reason why, though the tale has two versions. One is that the boys headed down to Panama City with so little money that all they could afford was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. A week of this constant fare was enough to ward Dad off of PB&J for a lifetime! The other version is similar, but with a twist: On the way down to Panama City, the boys met some girls who took their money, leaving them with just enough cash for PB&J."

Mrs. Godoy Hakim also recalled her Dad's hitchhiking trips from Jacksonville to California at the end of the school year each summer. There, he worked two jobs to make money for the next academic year.

"He always had a kind word and an impish grin for everyone he met, and was beloved by many," said Mrs. Godoy Hakim. "Upon hearing of my father's death, my parents' garbage collector broke into tears.

"Dad's last wishes were that his ashes be spread over Yankee Stadium and across the state of Alabama, the two places he said were always good to him."

Mr. Godoy is survived by his wife, Margarita; his daughters Monica Hanson, Olga Czekalski, Elena Lynn and Maria Godoy Hakim; and six grandchildren.

Friends who wish to share memories or convey condolences can contact Mrs. Hakim at

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