Lt. Gov. Of Pennsylvania Catherine Baker Knoll ~ LIBERAL DEMOCRAT What A TOTAL bunghole she is. Soldiers's Funeral Was Not A Function By Eric Heyl TRIBUNE-REVIEW Sunday, July 24, 2005 Grief doesn't diminish their anger. Relatives of the late Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich are upset over what they consider to be Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll's cynical intrusion on their mourning. Goodrich, 32, of Westwood, had many roles in life: husband, son, police officer, handyman, landscaper, Central Catholic High School wrestler, altar boy. He died July 10 in a mortar attack in Hit, Iraq. Friends and relatives packed St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Carnegie on Tuesday for the infantry unit leader's funeral. Knoll was among those in attendance. Rhonda Goodrich, 38, of Indiana County, the fallen soldier's sister-in-law, said Knoll slipped into a pew next to his aunt, Linda Kubiak of Bethel Park. Through Goodrich, Kubiak declined to comment. Rhonda Goodrich said Knoll, 74, of McKees Rocks, began chatting with Kubiak during the communion service. "When (Knoll) found out (Kubiak) was Joe's aunt, she handed her a business card and told her she attends 90 percent of these 'functions' across the state," Rhonda Goodrich said. "This was not a 'function,' " she (Rhonda Goodrich) continued, fairly spitting out the words. "A function is a dinner or an awards ceremony. This was my brother-in-law's funeral." According to Rhonda Goodrich, Knoll then said what continues to leave Joe Goodrich's survivors shaking their heads: "She told Joe's aunt that the (state) government was against the war." An odd thing to say, because the state never has taken a position on the Iraq conflict. An offensive thing to say to those who knew Joseph Goodrich loved being a Marine and fighting for his country. "Whether you're for the war or against the war, to say something like that to a relative of someone who just died in combat was just repulsive," Rhonda Goodrich said. Added Patricia Goodrich of the South Side, the slain soldier's mother: "When my sister-in-law related that to us (after the service), everyone just gasped. We didn't feel it was appropriate at all." Knoll spokesman Sean Pendrak would not comment specifically on the Goodrich family's allegations. "Obviously, the lieutenant governor extends her most sincere condolences to all families who have lost loved ones in the fighting," Pendrak said. "She also wants to convey her support of all of our fine young men and women in uniform." That support means little to Rhonda Goodrich, who believes Knoll was more interested in jump-starting next year's re-election bid than offering genuine sympathy to mourners. "She never said to anyone, 'If there's anything I can do to help, just call my office,' " Goodrich said. "It seems like she's going to funerals and using business cards as campaign fliers." Rhonda Goodrich remains angry, but she is grateful for one thing. "I'm glad she didn't sit down next to me and say those things," Goodrich said. "I would have smacked her on the spot." Eric Heyl is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer. He can be reached at email@example.com or (412) 320-7857.