Bob Goodman died on Monday, May 7, 2018, surrounded by his family.
Bob was born in 1930 in Broomall, Pennsylvania, which at the time was a village at the very end of the tramline from Philadelphia. He attended Friends’ Central School, where he was told by the legendary Clayton Farraday that he would spend the spring semester of 1947 in Mexico City. Bob dutifully went to the American School, where he developed life-long friendships with members of his Mexican host family, and he eagerly travelled back to Mexico as often as he could over the next 70 years. He routinely gave Clayton Farraday credit for inspiring him to establish a host of foreign exchange programs for his own students. The international teachers with whom he collaborated became some of his best friends, and some of the student participants were a joyously meaningful part of his own life until the very end. Indeed, Bob’s entire life is testimony to the truth that a great teacher can have an enormously powerful impact not just on one generation of students, but on more generations than you could imagine. Bless you, Clayton Farraday.
After graduating from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Bob entered the U.S. Army and spent two years with the 7721st Radio, Broadcast, and Leaflet group in Mannheim, Germany. Upon returning home, he decided to give teaching a try and obtained his first job, via the Fisk Teachers Agency, and began his career at Staunton Military Academy in Virginia. Incidentally, Bob’s brother, Fred Goodman, also obtained one of his first jobs through Fisk. Fred, too, spent a career in education, but at the college level as a professor of education at the University of Michigan. (Just as great educators make a difference in the world, successful teacher placement agencies are an unheralded boon to students, as well.)
After meeting and marrying Jinny (Saunders) Goodman, who at the time was teaching at Fairfax Hall, a boarding school for girls in Waynesboro, Virginia, the two moved to Christchurch School on the Rappahannock River in 1955, where Bob taught math, coached everything they asked him to coach, and became academic dean. In 1960, they decamped to Richmond to begin work at what was then known as the Collegiate Schools, with an “s” on the end. The plural form was used because Collegiate was hitherto a girl’s school, and Bob was hired by Mack Pitt to add a program for boys.
During these years, 1960-63, Bob first encountered Doug Guess, who was the director of the Southern Teachers Agency office in Richmond. Southern Teachers was founded in Columbia, SC, in 1902 by William Jones. With the help of his nephew, Henry Forbes, the two established branch offices in several cities around the South, including one in Richmond in 1919. After World War II, Doug and his wife Susan Forbes Guess (daughter of Henry) ran the Richmond office for decades. Bob Goodman and Doug Guess met through both school work and Episcopal church ties.
After three years of seasoning at Collegiate, Bob obtained his first headship—at Presbyterian Day School in Memphis, Tennessee. He left to become head of Augusta Prep in Georgia in 1965, and then on to Arlington School in Atlanta in 1968. He returned to Richmond in 1972 to become the founding headmaster of Trinity Episcopal High School where he spent 14 enormously productive years turning a former cow pasture into a gem of a school. Trinity, its students, and its faculty were the pride of his life. He and his talented, devoted, and inspired co-workers built something special, and under his successors, the school has reached ever greater heights. Bob remained a devoted Titan for the rest of his life, watching more Trinity ball games than any normal human could endure.
In 1981, the Goodman family acquired Southern Teachers from Susan Guess following the death of her husband Doug. Bob, however, didn’t begin regular work with the agency until later. In 1986 he left Trinity and worked for the Community School of Performing Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he delighted in the friendships he developed with the musicians there.
He joined Southern Teachers on a full-time basis in 1990 and helped modernize its function and practices. His great joys, though, were meeting school folk and travelling to schools. He reveled in visiting international schools to recruit teacher candidates, and to that end went to Europe (many, many times), South America, East and South Asia, and the Middle East.
After retiring from work with Southern Teachers in 2000, he would regularly run into former teachers, students, or their parents, and these encounters were invariably the highlight of his day. Even in retirement, he never tired of creating opportunities for others to advance their own education or of helping individuals establish the connections that he sincerely believed would enrich their lives. Until just last year he served on the Fulbright Scholarship committee at Virginia Commonwealth University. He also served as president of the Richmond chapter of the English-Speaking Union and took great pride in his work on the Scholarship Committee. The E-SU, in turn, recognized Bob with an Award of Merit for his many years of service in providing educational and cultural opportunities for students and teachers.
Bob Goodman used his almost limitless energy and creative instincts to serve and educate others. That was his life and his legacy. He will be sorely missed by the many who benefitted from his devotion to the private schools he enriched and the students he cherished.
A memorial service will be held at Trinity Episcopal School on Saturday, June 2, at 11:00 am.