ONEONTA – Ernest Goodman passed away from natural causes at the age of 96 at Cooperstown Center.
He was born Ernst Josef Guttmann in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), to Rose (Wagner) and Herbert Guttmann, and their large and thriving family.
In November 1939, at age 14, he became one of almost 10,000 German and Austrian Jewish and non-Aryan children rescued by the British government in what became known as the Kindertransport. His older brother and only sibling Henry had gone before in the Spring of 1939. Parents sent their children ranging from infancy to 17 years of age to the British Isles, for adoption or work, in a desperate attempt to save them from the Nazis.
Surviving family members escaped to Cuba, London, and Bolivia.
Ernest was placed on a farm in Staffordshire, England, where he milked the cows and did farm chores. He waited and prayed for the day he would turn 18 and immediately joined the British Army, becoming a member of the legendary Coldstream Guards. His name was anglicized to protect him in case he was captured by the Nazis.
After spearheading an attack against the Germans in Normandy, Belgium and Holland in September 1944 with the Infantry of the Guards’ Armored Division, he was severely wounded and spent months in military hospitals, almost dying from rheumatic fever.
Ernest was convalescing in London when he met Elisabeth Oakley, who worked in the War Office as part of her Army duty. He was 21 and she was 18 when they met, taking classes offered for enrichment. Sitting at the back of the class and watching her in the front row, he decided she was the one he would marry, and they did in November of 1946. Her large and warm family welcomed him with open arms.
Jobs were scarce in post-war England, so in 1953 Ernest left for the U.S., where his mother and other members of his scattered family had settled in Chicago. Betty and their young son Paul followed a few months later.
Ernest knew he wanted a college education, so after some research they moved, with Paul and new daughter Ann to Nebraska, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hastings College, and a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Nebraska. In 1963, the New York State University System was expanding and seeking staff. Ernie and his family packed up and moved to Oneonta, where they happily became immersed in the community.
In 1967, when the college decided to offer summer semesters in Germany, Ernest was asked to head the program. The Goodman family joined Ernest for a wonderful year abroad and he began a visiting Professorship at the University of Wuerzburg that lasted throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Ernie loved his work teaching, and mentored those students in which he saw promise. He retired in 1991. Betty retired in 1992 after serving as Oneonta city clerk for seven years. They enjoyed travel and family in the years that followed. In 2014, Ernest was honored to have a scholarship at SUNY Oneonta established in his name.
Ernest is survived by his beloved wife of 75 years, his daughter Ann Goodman, her husband Joel Weinstein, and grandsons Michael and Benjamin Weinstein. A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, March 30. Donations in Ernest’s memory may be made to the Ernest Goodman Scholarship Fund at SUNY Oneonta.