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David Earnest Godsey

Papa Dave- The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Our beloved Papa, David Earnest Godsey, born 10/18/1952, completed his time on this earth after a journey through brain cancer. On July 16, 2022, he landed peacefully in the arms of his Lord with the love of his family surrounding him. 

Those left to stand on the foundation of love that he built include his beloved wife and best friend, Donna Godsey; his siblings, Donna Lyon, Marty Carder (Terri Carder), and Dan Kervin (Lesa Kervin); his children Heather Champney (Greg Champney), Shannon Godsey, Shawn Lingerfelt, Leah Turley (Michael Turley), Rachel De La Cruz (Will De La Cruz); his grandchildren Journey Campbell, Trey Campbell, Riley Campbell, Reahnee Finley, Ellie Champney, Harrison Champney, Carson Champney, Destini De La Cruz, Ava De La Cruz, Ashlynn Lingerfelt, Keigan Lingerfelt, Branham Godsey, along with the myriads of souls he blessed along the way.

David, Dave, Pop spent his life roaming the rivers, mountains and back roads of Northeast Tennessee, bringing joy and sometimes mischief to those who crossed his path. Papa Dave was a true Appalachian man, born and raised in these hills, he never strayed too far for too long. He eventually settled into his forever home along his beloved Indian Creek in the North Creek Valley of Unicoi County. His early years were tumultuous and the chaos woven through those times shaped him into the boy, man, brother, father, friend, and perfectly imperfect human he would become. David was a man who sought adventure (and maybe to drive those around him just a little bit crazy.) He loved all things outdoors. He was a legend on the river in his canoe and kayak. He held commune with the water and learned how to flow with the rhythm of the river, sinking in and emerging each time breathless and ready to go again. He could become one with the curve of the road on his motorcycle, the roar of the engine pulsing through his veins. He rose before dawn to silently hunt the animals he respected and honored for providing him food. The wild natural world was his home.

David wasn’t perfect. He was human, after all. But, he was steady. He was the person who answered the phone and showed up to help without questioning what absurd circumstance led you to be in trouble in the first place. He was the man who stopped by just to see if you needed a helping hand or a bad joke to brighten your day. He was the President, CEO, Secretary and Treasurer of the neighborhood watch and he made you feel safer just for his being around the bend. He sought justice as fervently as he sought a good deal (if you know, you know.) He loved chocolate milk and his grandkids. He loved giving his grandkids chocolate milk (and dirt bikes) even when their parents said no.

Speaking of grandkids, the world stopped moving when they walked in the door. No matter the project or bad timing, he paused and made them feel like the center of the universe- his universe- which really was the very best place to be. That really was his gift. He had a gift for seeing you, truly seeing you and meeting you right exactly where you were. If you were a stranger, after a few minutes, you weren’t any more. He never sought to possess or control. He understood the fine of art of helping you figure things out for yourself, with a few tips and tricks in his mirthful tone thrown in to guide you.

David loved for love’s sake, never for recognition. His capacity for empathy and grace grew as he aged and landed in a tireless portrait of redemption, over and over again. He was a lover of the Light who knew how to navigate the darkness with steadfastness.

David’s final wish was for people to know that he loves Jesus. His faith will remain a guiding light for all of those he is waiting for at Heaven’s gates. He found sacred and holy faith, hope and love in his communion with the Lord and his legacy will forever be a tribute to that which is the greatest of all these things, Love.

David donated his body to the Quillen College of Medicine where his daughter and son-in-law attended medical school. A private burial service will take place at a later date.

A memorial service in David’s honor will be held on Saturday, July 30 at 1:00pm with visitation to begin at 11:00am. The service will be held at his beloved church, Lone Oak Christian Church located at 1914 Lone Oak Road, Johnson City, TN.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Lone Oak Christian Church or The Acorn House, a nonprofit lovingly stewarded by his precious children Leah and Michael Turley, that provides a safe space for healing and equipping those in need with tools to find and reach their potential. PayPal: @theacornhouse; Cash App: $theacornhouse 

Most of all, just look folks in the eye, offer them a kind smile or corny joke and know you are making the world a better place, just the way Papa did. 

Condolences may be sent to the Godsey family online at

Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Jonesborough, TN 753-3821