Dwight Garner at Real Life Church in Coconut Creek, Florida, on Father's Day 2022. Credit: Courtesy Garner family

Dwight Eugene Garner, lovingly known as “Goodie,” passed away on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. He was 58 years old.

Dwight was born on Oct. 25, 1964, in San Francisco, to Phillip and Sallye Garner. He was raised in Oakland with his three siblings, Felipe, Seleathia, and Dwayne Garner. 

Dwight attended Stonehurst Elementary and King Estates Junior High as a child and later went to Skyline High School, where he shined as a student athlete. He chose to follow his passion for football and dominated the field as a running back throughout his high school career. As a senior, he scored five touchdowns in the 1981 Silver Bowl game and was named first team in the All-Oakland Athletic League.

Dwight attended UC Berkeley on a full athletic scholarship and studied political science. He is known for his role in “The Play” during the Cal-Stanford football game on Nov. 20, 1982. In the game-winning play that happened with seconds remaining on the scoreboard, several Cal players, including Dwight, lateralled the football to clinch the victory. Dwight was a key figure in this historic upset that’s considered one of the most extraordinary moments in college sports. 

Dwight Garner during his successful years as a running back for Skyline High School. Credit: Courtesy Garner family

There remains debate around whether Dwight’s knee was down when he lateralled the football and whether the resulting touchdown should have counted. He always maintained that his knee wasn’t down and that the ruling on the field stands. Dwight was a humble man who rarely spoke about his athletic claim to fame, but when he was interviewed about The Play, he would reminisce about his role in the controversy with lightheartedness and good spirit. He was also a diligent student and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 1986.

While Dwight cared deeply about sports, what he loved the most was his family. Raised by loving parents in a close-knit household of six in East Oakland, Dwight was an enthusiastic and responsible child who spent much time with his family. One of his hobbies was singing, and in elementary school, he formed a neighborhood band called The Green Potions. His sister fondly remembers his falsetto rendition of “You Make Me Feel Brand New” by The Stylistics. Dwight cherished his childhood and continued to build on the values that were instilled in him as he grew older. 

He met Vida Haskins, his high school sweetheart, at age 15. They married on April 18, 1987, and raised four children together: Phillip, Gabrielle, Danielle, and David Garner. There aren’t enough words in the world to relay the father Dwight was. He loved generously and didn’t spare in showing every ounce of passion he had for his family. He was there for countless moments in his children’s lives. From births to birthdays, athletic games, honor roll ceremonies, field trips, performances, college drop-offs, annual family Disney trips, jiu-jitsu tournaments, and so much more, he was always present or a phone call away. He not only fathered his own children but was also a father figure to the young men he mentored as a coach for the American Youth Football League, and he served as a  leader of the men’s ministry in his Christian community at Real Life Church. Dwight loved everyone around him and continually extended his love to his communities, always opening his home and heart to youth and friends as though they were part of his family.

Dwight Garner and his family among the redwoods on a trip to the Bay Area. From left: Phillip, Danielle, Vida, Dwight, Gabrielle, and David Garner. Credit: Courtesy Garner family

Dwight’s faith is his most impactful legacy. He brought the same intensity, passion, and enthusiasm with which he played football to his role as a ministry leader. The name he wore most proudly was “man of God.” Known for his infectious smile and a laugh that could brighten an entire room, Dwight’s spirit, his big heart, his love, his faith, his passion, and his presence will truly be missed. He will forever be known as a man with a thundering passion for God whose faith and love will continue to impact his family, both immediate and extended, for generations.

Preceding him in his passing are his father, Phillip Garner, and brother, Chris Gulatt. Dwight leaves to celebrate his memories: his devoted and lovely wife, Vida Garner; two sons, Phillip and David; two daughters, Gabrielle and Danielle; two granddaughters, Carolinna and Leilani; mother, Sallye Garner; two brothers, Felipe and Dwayne Garner; sister, Seleathia Garner; three uncles, Clarence, Charles (Chubby), and Jesse Lee; four aunts, Jannie, Shirley, Annie, and Linda; as well as coaches, teammates, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Editor’s Note: Countless remarkable lives are lived in Oakland. At The Oaklandside, youve likely started seeing obituaries like this one, written by community members to honor their loved ones. Soon, we’ll make it easy for readers to get in touch with us about sharing a remembrance. Hats off to our sister site Berkeleyside, which has provided this valuable service in Berkeley for 10 years.