Ralph R. Goodman
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1920 - 2013 PITTSFIELD Ralph R. Goodman, born in Pittsfield on June 6, 1920, son of Max and Fannie Goodman Paskowitz, died on Sunday, July 7, 2013.
He was fond of reminding people that he was born at home on Pecks Road where his mother and father owned and operated a grocery store for many years. He would help his widowed mother and older brother, in the store, either as a butcher or delivery boy, as needed. Often recounting how he would deliver groceries and, during the winter, would crisscross the city and other places, on homemade barrel stave skis or with the family's horse.
Mr. Goodman was predeceased by his wife of 57 years, Gertrude Alberts Goodman, whom he married Sept. 2, 1946, and by his brother, Isodore Goodman, also of Pittsfield.
He is survived by his daughter, Myla J. Goodman Blum (Dr. Norman Blum) of Rolling Hills, Lenox, and 381 Poinciana Island Drive, Sunny Isles, Fla., and his son, Kermit Goodman of 24 Austin Ave., Pittsfield. Also saddened by his loss are his grandchildren, Ryan Less of Pittsfield, Tara Less Rothstein (Daniel) of West Hartford, Conn., Adam Goodman and Mark Goodman, also of Pittsfield. He leaves two great-grandchildren, Abby and Jake Rothstein of West Hartford, children of his granddaughter, Tara Less Rothstein. He also leaves his constant and daily companion, Tinker Belle, the family dog who sat by his side and feet and gave him friendship and concern every day for the last ten years.
Ralph was a graduate of Pittsfield High School, Class of 1938, and completed three years at Ohio State University before being called to serve in the United States Army. He was a gunnery sergeant who was stationed in Fort Rodman, New Bedford, where he met his beloved wife. After returning from his service in Europe, he married Gertrude Alberts and ultimately returned to Pittsfield.
He served with General Headquarters and was stationed in multiple European locations in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. Ralph participated in the following battles and campaigns: Central Europe Ardennes and Rhineland, Normandy and Northern France. He received the following decorations and citations, Europe African Mid Eastern Theatre Ribbon and five Bronze Stars. During that tour of duty, he always tried to form a minyan of service personnel, especially on Jewish Holy Days.
While serving in Belgium, he assisted in rescuing Jews from hiding. Amongst the many that he assisted, he remembered a young family that had been hiding in a basement and wanted to celebrate the Jewish holy day of Purim. He brought this dream to their basement hiding place. Years later, these same small children, now grown and living in London, rediscovered their benefactor when reading an article in the Jewish War Veterans' Magazine, written about Mr. Goodman's service in Belgium in 1945. Over 50 years later, they contacted him and invited him to London to renew their bonds.
In 2007, in his late 80's, accompanied by his daughter, Myla, he made the trip to London. He was welcomed with warmth, love, and great respect. A High Tea was sponsored by these survivors and their children attended by many other World War II survivors as well as the President of the London Jewish Conservative Movement.
During the last several years of his life, he and his longtime friend and companion, Max Bookless, were invited by the Dalton Public TV to give extensive interviews about their time in the military during WWII.
For many years, he and his brother, Isadore, owned and operated the Seven-Up bottling plant on Wahconah Street, where they also formulated Nehi, Royal Crown and Moxie sodas. After selling same, in the early 1960's, he went into the insurance sales for Prudential Insurance Co. Later, he purchased the Harry T. Grant Insurance Agency. He and his wife, Gertrude, operated this independent insurance agency, now known as the Ralph R. Goodman Insurance Agency, on the second floor of 85 East Street. Daily, they worked together, giving personal service, advice, and assurance to thousands of customers, many of whom became longtime friends.
Often, customers and insurance company personnel would visit, intending only to carry out some limited business. For those from Pittsfield, Ralph would establish connections based upon his family's Pittsfield roots and would have them stay and chat for extended periods. He was fond of telling stories about Pittsfield and Berkshire County and was often able to give people a detailed oral history of his beloved Pittsfield, the Berkshires, and the people who lived here, including their relatives. By all who ever knew him, ralph was well-known form his storytelling skills and impeccable memory.
He did some acting in local theater groups, appearing in the Town Players and the short-loved Jewish theater.
His passions in life included his family, his country, and religious community life. Mr. Goodman was a devoted, practicing and observant Jew and member of Congregation Knesset Israel of Pittsfield, a synagogue that his parents helped to found. He was often involved in trying to secure the daily prayer minyan, the minimum group of ten adults, needed to recite certain memorial and other prayers. He continued to actively participate in synagogue and religious matters until the very end.
In later life, he fulfilled his dream of visiting Israel, where he was able to ride camels, pray at the Wailing Wall and find long-lost cousins who had escaped the horrors of WWII in Europe. He spend many hours at the Silvio Conte Federal Archives, researching for surviving family members and succeeded.
He was a member of the Crescent-Pittsfield Lodge and Master Mason for 58 years.
Mr. Goodman was a man without prejudice, bias, or ill will towards anyone. He had undefeatable faith in the human condition, sought fairness, justice, and compassion for all. He was a staunch believer in the American way and dream.
Although a genuinely proud World War II Army veteran, honorably discharged, he always argued against war as a resolution. He continued his parents' teaching of instilling in his children that some of the most important things were to feed the hungry and clothe those in need. He modeled a life of reason, justice, dignity, compassion, fairness, and inner strength - true to his last breath.
Recently, the family held a party to celebrate his 'entering the 94th year of life.' He was surrounded by family and friends, love and respect.
His family remembers him as one of the most decent, humble, human beings that ever walked upon the face of this earth. His passing leaves a deep void. he brought joy and special memories for which we will all be grateful.
FUNERAL NOTICE: Services will be Tuesday, July 9, 2013, at 2 p.m. at Congregation Knesset Israel, 16 Colt Road, with Rabbi David Weiner, Spiritual Leader, officiating. Burial will follow at Knesset Israel Cemetery, Pecks Road. Following the burial, there will be a meal of consolation at Congregation Knesset Israel Synagogue.
The family will receive friends during Shiva at 24 Austin Ave., Pittsfield, Tuesday, July 9, from 7 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, July 10, from 7 to 9 p.m., and Thursday, July 11, from 7 to 9 p.m.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made directly to Congregation Knesset Israel or to the donor's
Please visit www.flynndagnolifuneralhomes.com.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on July 8, 2013