As the youngest of seven children born into "a fairly poor family" in Virginia, Tim Godfrey says he developed some survival skills pretty early on in his life.

"I really learned the value of doing it yourself — making it yourself, growing it yourself, hunting, fishing, stocking up on food and preparing for harder times," he says.

He carried those values and skills with him into adulthood, becoming an avid hunter, fisherman and gardener, and also making and processing much of his own food, including brewing his own beer. When he became a father, he raised his kids to be self-sufficient, too.

"I believe you should always be prepared to survive," he says. "I grew up that way, and I've tried to teach my kids that, as well."

Godfrey has lived in many places in his lifetime, but today calls Audubon home. He and his wife, Jackie, moved to the small northwestern Minnesota community this past summer after he accepted the position of Superintendent of Lake Park-Audubon Public Schools. He says they hope to spend their retirement years there, as it's a haven for hunting and fishing.

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Tim Godfrey became the new superintendent at Lake Park-Audubon Public Schools on July 1, and is still in the process of selling his home in Kenmare, N.D., which is where he served as superintendent prior to making the move to Audubon this summer. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Tim Godfrey became the new superintendent at Lake Park-Audubon Public Schools on July 1, and is still in the process of selling his home in Kenmare, N.D., which is where he served as superintendent prior to making the move to Audubon this summer. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

"It's a beautiful area," he says. "It's a small town, with lots of outdoor activities — two of my biggest hobbies are hunting and fishing."

"I've been hunting for bear, moose, elk, caribou, and I love pheasant hunting, but my favorite is deer hunting," he adds. "It was a tradition in my family, in our community."

Godfrey has hunted and fished all over the world, from Alaska, where he lived and worked for about eight years, to Korea, where he was stationed while he was in the U.S. Army.

Tim Godfrey says that deer hunting is one of his favorite pastimes, and he uses the venison from kills such as this white-tailed deer to make his own chili, burgers and other dishes. (Submitted photo)
Tim Godfrey says that deer hunting is one of his favorite pastimes, and he uses the venison from kills such as this white-tailed deer to make his own chili, burgers and other dishes. (Submitted photo)

He says there's a lot of satisfaction to be had in doing things for yourself whenever possible. When he brings home an animal or fish he's nabbed, he likes to process and prepare it himself, at least as much as possible. The same goes for the fruits and vegetables he and Jackie grow in their garden; he likes to do the canning.

Cooking is something he enjoys quite a bit, too — in particular when he has procured and processed the ingredients himself.

"I make pretty good venison burgers," he says. He also makes his own bacon.

"There's a real sense of pride in creating your own product. That's how it started," he says. "As I grew older, it became more of a craft — it became more of a hobby to me, almost an art form."

Godfrey feels modern society has become so dependent on readily available services and materials, "that we've forgotten how to be self-sufficient, and to do it ourselves."

Tim Godfrey says that Alaska is one of his favorite destinations for hunting and fishing; he has brought home several fish like this silver salmon, and tries to get back there at least once a year to re-stock his pantry. He says that he lived and worked there for many years, and . (Submitted photo)
Tim Godfrey says that Alaska is one of his favorite destinations for hunting and fishing; he has brought home several fish like this silver salmon, and tries to get back there at least once a year to re-stock his pantry. He says that he lived and worked there for many years, and . (Submitted photo)

In addition to being a DIY guy when it comes to food, Godfrey also likes to do as much of his own maintenance and repair work as possible.

"I'm kind of a 'fix it' guy," he says. "I try to use my own skills and resources first, before I contract with somebody else to do the job. I feel I've always had the ability to look at something, take it apart and figure out how it works."

When he can't figure out how to fix something himself, he'll turn to YouTube, which he feels "is one of the greatest teachers there is today."

If something is so broken that he can't figure out how to fix it, then "it probably can't be fixed," he says. "That's when it's time for a new one."

Tim Godfrey served in the U.S. Army from 1985 to 1992, and was stationed and/or deployed all over the world, from Germany and South America to Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. (Submitted photo)
Tim Godfrey served in the U.S. Army from 1985 to 1992, and was stationed and/or deployed all over the world, from Germany and South America to Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. (Submitted photo)

Godfrey was in the Army from 1985-1992 and says he was stationed in a lot of different places during that time. He was deployed to South America, Saudi Arabia and Iraq (during Operation Desert Storm), and was in Germany for a while, as well. After he married his first wife, who was in the Air Force, they traveled around even more: "My life is a road map."

Along the way, he got a teaching degree from the University of Colorado in Pueblo, then earned a master's degree in special education at Florida State University.

"I was a teacher for 13 years," he says, and it was while he was in Alaska that he went for his principal's credentials. He has spent 12 years as a school administrator, first as an elementary principal, then a high school principal, and finally, a superintendent.

Tim Godfrey caught this oversized halibut during a fishing trip to Alaska, which is also one of his favorite hunting destinations. (Submitted photo)
Tim Godfrey caught this oversized halibut during a fishing trip to Alaska, which is also one of his favorite hunting destinations. (Submitted photo)

In 2013, he came back to North Dakota, where he had spent many of his formative years, "to be closer to my father, Warren, who passed away in 2016."

He has served as a superintendent in several North Dakota school districts, most recently in Kenmare, where he and Jackie first made a home together. The couple married two years ago and have a blended family of six children and five grandchildren, "with one more (grandchild) on the way."

Godfrey says he tried to pass on his skills and self-reliance to each of his four children, and believes the best way is "learning by doing."

"It all feeds back to that innovative mindset," he says. "I think it just feels better — you feel more fulfilled — when you can do it yourself."

Tim Godfrey shot this caribou during a hunting trip to Kotzebue, Alaska. (Submitted photo)
Tim Godfrey shot this caribou during a hunting trip to Kotzebue, Alaska. (Submitted photo)