Vernon Gooch, expert chef, avid bridge player, and intrepid world traveler, died Friday, January 17, at Rolling Green Village, Greenville, South Carolina. Born on January 29, 1932, in Ravenna, Ohio, Vernon was graduated from Kent State University, served his country as a Lieutenant in the Air Force, returned to Kent to earn his Masters Degree in English before beginning his life's work as a Professor of English at Adirondacks Community College in Glens Falls, New York.
Upon retirement in 1994, he moved to Tryon, then Greer, and finally to 11 Woodtrace Circle at Rolling Green Village. During those twenty years after retirement, he continued to work part time at Princeton University as a Reader and Table Leader for the ETS essay exams. A lifetime member of the Episcopal Church, he also served as President of the Park Avenue Duplicate Bridge Club, worked at the Greer Soup Kitchen, wrote occasional columns for Rolling Green's Village Voice, and taught classes at Isothermal Community College. In 2003, he was inducted into Epsilon Epsilon Epsilon in a ceremony held at the Lutheran Seminary in Berkeley, California.
During this period, he traveled to five continents, crossing the oceans eleven times on the Cunard or Holland America lines and once on the Concorde. He loved the cathedrals of London, the bistros of Paris, the fjords of Norway, the pyramids of Egypt, and the shrines of the Holy Land, but his favorite adventure was a four-week cruise down the Eastern Coast of South America on a small ship with National Geographic lecturers, Audubon experts, Duke University scholars, and an open bar.
He will be missed by countless friends who enjoyed his magical dinner parties and cagey card games. But most of all, Vernon will be remembered as a gentleman of the old school, who stood when ladies entered a room and helped friends and strangers with their luggage. Ten days before he died, he went, in excruciating pain, to his doctor's office without an appointment. He was prepared to wait, but when the nurse saw the extent of his distress she immediately took him to the physician. Two hours later, as he was walking slowly to his car, he turned and returned to the office to apologize to the patients whose appointment he had taken. His kindness was boundless.
Vernon is survived by one sister, Carol Lockhart; a niece, Erika Lockhart; close friends Rachel and Jerry Johnson; Baron Pogo Banners (his faithful guard dog, who was smuggled in for one last visit during his six-day stay in Hospice); and Karl Beason, his twenty-year companion in travel -- and in life.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Calvary Episcopal Church, Wadesboro, North Carolina 28170, or to Ark Hospice, 101 Grace Drive, Easley, South Carolina 29640.
Published in The Greenville News on Jan. 19, 2014