John Milton Goff was born June 20, 1915 in Strawberry, Pulaski County, Kentucky. He was the second child born to Andrew Montgomery Goff and Nellie Hughes Goff.
When Johnny was seven years old, the family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where Andrew became foreman for the Southern Railroad. Johnny grew up in Ludlow, Kenton County, Kentucky, the oldest of five surviving children. When Johnny was ten, he came down with rheumatic fever, and although it left scars on his heart, he would grow up to serve his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Johnny married Helen Elizabeth Houston on June 19, 1937. They had four children, Tommy, Ronnie, Darlene and Donna Sue. The family settled in Independence, Kenton County, Kentucky in a white frame house that Johnny built. His children went to Simon Kenton High School, and the family held membership at New Banklick Baptist Church, where Johnny served as deacon and lay minister. Johnny inherited his musical gene from his father, and he played the guitar and sang. Johnny and Helen traveled throughout Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana singing and preaching the Gospel.
Johnny was my uncle; my father, Paul, and he were brothers. I remember being at Uncle Johnny's when I was young. I can remember Uncle Johnny standing me up on the piano bench and saying, "Sing, Paula Kay. Sing." I can remember him playing the twelve-string guitar and he and my dad and I sang convention songs from what we called the Red Back Hymnbook. Aunt Helen always had a Broadman Hymnbook, and occasionally we'd sing from that.
Johnny died in April, 1972, at the age of 56. He joined his brother, Herbert, who had died in infancy a year before Johnny was born. They are together in that great cloud of witnesses watching the rest of us finish the race. Sometimes, I think I can almost hear the strum of the twelve-string and a far away fiddle making joyful noises to the Lord.