Patricia “Pat” Timmons-Goodson was born into a military family. As the eldest child, her father expected her to serve as the example for her five younger siblings. His early loss instilled in her the value of time and the people in her life. Pat’s mother was a homemaker and taught her a strong work ethic, a commitment to her community and a firm faith in God.
She was one of the first African-American students to become a double Tar Heel, earning her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at UNC, she met Ernest J. Goodson, a dental school student and her future husband.
After law school, Pat oversaw Fayetteville operations for the U.S. Census Office in Charlotte during the 1980 count. Following the census, she became a respected Cumberland County assistant district attorney. Her roots in the Cumberland County courthouse run deep.
Following her tenure as a Cumberland County prosecutor, Pat worked as a legal services attorney for Legal Aid. And in 1984 at 29 years of age, she became the first African-American woman named a North Carolina District Court Judge. She would go on to be elected to three consecutive terms by the voters of the 12th judicial district.
Into her third term, Pat was elevated to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 1997. Nine years later, she was honored to become the first African-American woman on the North Carolina Supreme Court. North Carolina voters ratified the Governor’s appointment in a resounding statewide victory later that same year.
She stepped down from the Supreme Court in 2012 and was appointed to the United States Commission on Civil Rights in 2014. The Commission addresses many issues, from water contamination in rural towns to voting access. Pat believes that each generation is charged with strengthening America and continuing its centuries of progress.
In April 2016, the President again confirmed Pat’s distinguished record of service by nominating her to serve as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The American Bar Association unanimously gave her its highest rating: Well-Qualified. Unfortunately, the Senate never acted on her nomination.
Along with these professional accolades, Pat raised two sons with Dr. Goodson. She understands the struggles of working families. She balanced her family and professional life to build a career in public service. She will take that experience to Congress to stand up for working families.
She was also awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest award offered for state service. The North Carolina Bar Association named her a Liberty Bell Award recipient. That honor recognizes an individual “who has strengthened the American System of freedom under law.” She is also listed in the North Carolina Women’s Hall of Fame. Pat has received three honorary degrees.
Today, Pat and her husband, Dr. Ernest Goodson, live in Fayetteville where she is active in her church, First Baptist. Along with her degrees from the University of North Carolina, she earned a Master of Laws at Duke University School of Law.