Tribute by Sam Goodyear: George Goetz loved Springfield summers, books, art

Tribute by Sam Goodyear:
George Goetz loved Springfield summers, books, art

He looked, with his shock of snow-white hair, like Boris Yeltsin. His bearing was ambassadorial, with all that the word implies: courteous, cordial, tactful, informed, balanced, refined.

George Goetz, longtime summer resident of Springfield, died in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, on July 25 at 90, in the gentle loving presence of his family.

I first met George and his wife, Carolyn, in 1989. Lucky me. It was impossible not to be instantly charmed by the two of them and when they invited me to participate in the creation of Leatherstocking Theatre Company in 1991, I accepted with pleasure.

Carolyn spearheaded the artistic side of things; George was the mastermind of all things business. Under their indefatigable leadership, audiences were treated to Inherit the Wind in the Cooperstown court-house, Jefferson & Adams at Hyde Hall, and A Couple of Blaggards (sic) with Malachy and Frank McCourt, among many other memorable productions.

George was a man of learning and a man of books. He imparted his learning as a teacher of history at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey, where he also served as assistant principal.

If I were to paint his portrait, I would place him in his armchair, his focus a book on his lap, a highlighter in his hand at the ready. The book could deal with any one of his myriad interests: American history, French history, Russian history, German history, English history, the Austro-Hungarian empire, world’s fairs, philosophy, philosophy, philosophy, the Mayan culture, George Washington, philosophy, existentialism, post-modern literature …

In a basket by his chair there would be all the publications he subscribed to, maybe two baskets there were so many. On the table next to him there would be photographs of Carolyn, of their three daughters, Susanne, Jeanne, Linda, and of their four grandchildren, Max, Henry, Maya, and Ian.

The music he would be listening to on the CD player nearby might be Mozart (he owned a set of the complete works), or maybe Big Band classics, or maybe Portuguese fado …

On the windowsill his cat Sweets would laze curled up in the sun.

He was a man of unslakable intellectual curiosity. The bookshelves in his study, and living room, and bedroom, and hallway, and basement, groaned with volumes treating of every discipline imaginable.
And he was a dear friend.

Predeceased by his wife, Carolyn, in 2017 and daughter, Susanne, in 2011, George is survived by his daughters, Jeanne and Linda, their spouses, their children, untold numbers of enlightened students, and myriad enriched friends.

Sam Goodyear

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