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Greatest Generation loses another

Discussion in 'Veteran's Forum' started by Bonk, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. Bonk

    Bonk Millennium Member

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    Nov 8, 1999
    My great-uncle Bob passed away last week. RIP, sir.


    Published April 19, 2005

    Robert Goodman: Taught geography with photos


    Robert Goodman, a popular Wayne State University geography professor who taught his students about the world's land through his photos of its inhabitants, died April 15 of complications from colon cancer at the Bon Secours Nursing Care Center in St. Clair Shores. He was 86.

    His lesson plans were mixed with enthusiasm for his topic and a dry sense of humor that kept students' attention. During Mr. Goodman's life, he created more than 10,000 photo slides from his trips to Asia, the Middle East and Europe to show his students. Some of his photos captured the geography; others told the story of the how the people used the land.

    Besides taking the photos, he embedded himself in the placeshe visited, studying the residents' culture and land use. His classes became adventures as his animated lectures took students around the world with him.

    He did not have a specialty region because he was fascinated with
    everywhere he traveled, said Bryan Thompson of Grosse Pointe Park, a former colleague.

    Mr. Goodman called his students pups; they called him Doc.
    The youngest of four children, Mr. Goodman was born in Gwinn in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. His mother first taught him about geography, telling him about a class she took in the 1890s at what was then Ferris Business College. He loved the verdant land around him and the Michigan lakes he visited with his family.

    When he first saw a map as a child, his interest in geography was

    "This was a young boy realizing how big the world was," said his niece, Susan Smith of Dexter. "He was obsessed."

    Mr. Goodman studied geography at the University of Chicago, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees.

    A year later, in 1941, he went to work for the U.S. Army Map Service in Chicago. In 1942, the Army drafted him to make war-related maps in Washington. His first overseas travel was in 1944 when he was sent to Europe for the war. He was honorably discharged as a technical sergeant in 1945.

    Upon returning to the United States, Mr. Goodman went to Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and earned his PhD in geography. There, he met his wife, Marjorie Smith, a fellow geography student, and they married in 1950.

    He joined Wayne State University's geography department in 1948. Because he did not have any children, he always considered his students his own. He organized trips to Europe for them so they could learn about the world through geography.

    Before the days of computers, students drafted their maps in Mr. Goodman's Grosse Pointe Woods basement, which was filled with overhead cameras, tables, desks and, of course, maps, Smith said.

    "He had a following" among the students, said Thompson. "He brought a lot of people into geography."

    In 1961, he earned a Fulbright scholarship to spend a year in India to establish a geography department at the University of New Delhi. He eventually incorporated film into his lesson plans and made a movie called "Growth Patterns in Detroit."

    Mr. Goodman won numerous accolades including the Wayne State Excellence in Teaching Award in 1979 and a Distinguished Teaching Award from the National Council for Geographic Education in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, in 1983. He retired in 1983.

    Outside his academic life, he loved music, singing in a barbershop
    quartet, listening to classical pieces and supporting the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He also was a member of the Grosse Pointe Choral group and a lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party.

    In addition to Smith, Mr. Goodman is survived by five nieces and nephews.

    Despite his world travels, his favorite place was Little Lake, where his family has a cabin. He will be cremated and his ashes will be scattered there this summer.

    Visitation is from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Verheyden Funeral Home in Grosse Pointe. There will be an informal memorial at the funeral home Wednesday from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

    Copyright © 2005 Detroit Free Press Inc.
  2. RussP

    RussP Super Moderator Moderator

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    Jan 23, 2003
    Central Virginia
    Bonk, sorry to hear of the family's loss.

    But, what a life he had! Sounds like he made a difference in many of his studen...sorry, pups' lives.

    His accomplishments are what made that generation great.

    RIP, Doc...;w ;w ;w

  3. reconvic

    reconvic Recon Marine

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    Feb 27, 2005
    Mesa, Az.
    Bonk I will say a prayer for him and may he rest in peace.
  4. CarlosDJackal


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    Dec 10, 2000
    I'm sorry to hear of your loss. May he RIP.