Recap of Brandon Oaks “Coffee and Collaboration Meeting”


Photo by Shawn Nowlin
(l-r) Fran Ferguson, Susan Mini, Jean Taylor and Robert Goodwin.

On Thursday, April 28, Susan Mini, President/CEO of Sherwood Memorial Park met with Robert Goodwin, III, 95, son of co-founder and visionary of Sherwood Memorial Park James Robert Goodwin, Jr. Also present at the meeting were Jean Taylor, Chairman of the Sherwood Memorial Park Board of Directors and granddaughter of James Robert Goodwin, Jr. and Fran Ferguson, Executive Director of the Salem Museum.

“Bob” Goodwin and Susan Mini are both former Presidents of the Salem Kiwanis Club and Bob currently still sits on the board of the Snyder Nursing Home. Both believe strongly in service to the Salem Community, which is very much in keeping with the theme that was discussed! Jean has been an invaluable asset to Sherwood Memorial Park, along with the other current board members, Knox Strube and Randy Foley, keeping the vision of her grandfather always in her dealings and deliberations.

The purpose of the meeting was to delve into the history of Sherwood Memorial Park, in particular the unique and beautiful amphitheater, and discuss possible characters for an addition to the “Ghost Walk” fundraiser for the Salem Museum. The proposed addition would take place in the historic amphitheater and continue the tradition set forth many years ago of using the space as a peaceful and inspirational asset for the community.

Sherwood Memorial Park was founded by James Robert Goodwin, Jr., along with Charles Albert and Frank Hester and their families. Goodwin then guided the park for many years. In 1953 the idea J R Goodwin dreamed of came to fruition with an outdoor drama which debuted in the Sherwood Amphitheater, “The Boy with a Cart.”  The drama that really utilized the amphitheater best, however, was “Thy Kingdom Come,” which opened in 1957. The play was written by Kermit Hunter and ran for three seasons. David Huddleston got his start with a Hollywood career right there on the Sherwood stage in this play and the show was mentioned by Arthur Godfrey on his national radio show. There was even a photo of the production in The New York Times!

Sherwood has recently been opening the amphitheater to the community once again for Pastor Brian Gordon’s drama and adaptation of the Easter story, “A Light in the Darkness.”  This play has run for eight seasons and has benefited the Salem/Roanoke County Food Pantry though a voluntary offering. It has also become a tradition for many area families, and audience members from as far away as West Virginia and North Carolina to also attend. The plays are well attended and received, with as many as 600 in attendance on some evenings.

James Robert “Bob” Goodwin, III also shared some inspiring memories of past attractions of Sherwood Memorial Park such as beautiful tulip displays, Sunday organ playing broadcast throughout the park through the Sherwood Abbey Chapel, and the hiring of tri-county league baseball players to give them support to play in the Salem area! Sherwood continues to add beautiful areas of inspiration and reflection for the enjoyment of the community, as well as supporting the local Salem Red Sox!

Currently Susan and Fran are in the process of researching historical figures that may be buried in Sherwood for inclusion in the characters of the “Ghost Walk.” Anyone with information can contact Susan Mini at (540)389-2171 or Fran Ferguson at (540)389-6760.


-Submitted by Susan Mini

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