ITHACA, N.Y.— If Alan Godfrey had anything to say about it, you weren’t going to miss Sunday dinner.
Cooking was one of his favorite activities, particularly when it involved sharing food with others, according to Godfrey’s sister, Quinn. His specialty was seafood, especially crab legs. Sunday dinners gradually evolved as a way for Alan to keep his family members close for a weekly ritual, even if people could only stop by to pick up the food on their way elsewhere.
“He was always trying to keep the family together,” Quinn said. She was one of Alan’s three older siblings, born nine months before him. “We just got older and families separate, a lot of our family moved away. We moved here to Ithaca to be with our mom. But he always made it a point for us to have Sunday dinner. Even if we just came through to pick up the food, he’d say ‘We need to get together as a family.'”
Alan Godfrey was fatally shot behind Taughannock Boulevard in Ithaca at 12:45 a.m. on Tuesday, July 20. His death is being investigated as a homicide, though police have not released any further details about potential circumstances or suspects, other than that Godfrey’s death was not a random act of violence. An outpouring of condolences and sorrow have followed on social media from those who knew him, either personally or through work.
The Godfreys grew up in Binghamton, where Alan met Jordan Clemons, a central figure in last year’s racial justice protests who now leads the Unbroken Promise Initiative. Both were around six years old when they met, their respective families grew close and the two stayed in touch over the years, particularly after Godfrey moved to Ithaca about 15 years ago.
“Whenever we would cross paths, we’d check on one another and make sure we were good,” Clemons said. “We talked about the struggle, what we wanted to do, needed to do, what our next steps were. […] He was vibrant, full of life. Regardless of what the struggle was.”
Clemons said he found out about the shooting early Tuesday morning after seeing it on the news, then heard in subsequent phone calls that Godfrey was the victim. He said his first response when hearing that Godfrey had been killed was “Don’t tell me that.”
Quinn Godfrey called her brother “an inspiration,” talking about how he had been able to overcome a difficult upbringing and become a “loving light of positivity” regardless. He had worked as a camp counselor at Greater Ithaca Activities Center, as well as being involved with Southside Community Center.
“Him and I went through a lot as kids, but he was so vibrant,” Godfrey said. “He was into everything. Dancing, singing, he worked a lot in the community with kids. […] Just had so much energy, he loved to dance, to make people laugh.”
“The biggest thing was how involved he was in the community, even growing up as kids in Binghamton and then we came here to Ithaca,” she continued. “Any event that [GIAC or Southside] held, anything that they had going on, he was there. He was even a dance teacher over there at GIAC. He was definitely involved with the community quite a bit.”
Alan didn’t have kids of his own, Quinn said, but enjoyed being around them—to the point that he would often volunteer to babysit for her children.
“Any time I needed a babysitter, he’d say he’d take them, no questions asked. […] I’d be like… for real?” she said, laughing through tears. “He was so close with his nieces and nephews. He’d call me up and say ‘Quinn, I’m coming to get the boys.”
“He was just infectious,” she ended. “He could pick up a conversation with anyone, anywhere. If you didn’t know Alan, you would.”
The Godfrey family has established a memorial fund where people can donate to help cover Alan’s funeral and burial costs. A vigil is being held on Monday, July 26 between 5 and 6 p.m. in Washington Park.