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Thomas Day Goodrich

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Thomas Day Goodrich Obituary
Thomas Day Goodrich

AGE: 88 • Wilmington

On November 5, 2015, Thomas Day Goodrich came to the end of a life filled with the riches of a loving family, rewarding career, and the respect and admiration of his colleagues.

Through his teaching, unfailing humor, gentleness of spirit, and love of life and the people he touched, he shaped ambassadors of intellect, kindness, acceptance, and instilled a habit of looking beyond ourselves.

Tom was born in 1927 in New York City to L. Carrington and Anne Goodrich, and from an early age had his gaze turned towards the world. From the ages of three to five he lived in China while his father, a prominent scholar of Chinese history and language, did research. Tom, ever adventurous, would follow this pattern of international travel and scholarly pursuits for the rest of his life.

Tom attended the Riverdale Country Day School in the Bronx beginning in kindergarten, graduating from there in 1945. He matriculated the same year at Williams College. After his education was interrupted by military service, he continued his studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he received his B.A. in 1952. During his time in California, he supplemented his income by teaching at the Arthur Murray School of Dance, and was a coveted dance partner for the rest of his days! In 1953 he received his masters degree in teaching social studies from Teachers College, Columbia University. In keeping with his adventurous nature, Tom wanted to teach overseas and accepted a position teaching in Turkey at the Talas Amerikan Orta Okalu, a middle school for boys, where he taught for four years. Many of his students later became important businessmen, diplomats, and scientists. They remembered their teacher fondly, staying in touch long after their schooling was complete. Tom taught an additional year in Turkey at the Amerikan Kiz Koleji, a high school for girls in Izmir. He made an impression there as well. Decades later, in one of the markets of Istanbul, a woman approached him and said, "Mr. Goodrich! My math teacher!" It was during this time in Turkey that Tom met his first wife, Carol(Rusty). His travels throughout the country and the Middle East gave Tom a deep appreciation for the culture and people of that region.

Tom's time teaching in Turkey proved to be a turning point in his life -- it determined the trajectory of his career as an historian of the Ottoman Empire and Islamic world. When Tom returned to the United States, he began his doctoral program in history at Columbia University, where he studied with such eminent scholars as Tibor Halasi-Kun and Peter Gay. While there, he became interested in Ottoman views of the New World. With the help of a Fulbright Scholarship, Tom completed his dissertation -- a translation of Tarih-i Hindi-i Garbi, a book dating from the late 16th century that was a major source for Ottoman information about the New World. An expanded version of his dissertation was later published as a book -- "The Ottoman Turks and the New World." This study sparked his interest in Ottoman cartography, in particular maps of the New World, which became his lifelong scholarly pursuit. Tom received two more Fulbrights in the 1980s in furtherance of his scholarship. Throughout his career he regularly published articles and presented papers at conferences -- he celebrated his 85th birthday while giving a paper in Istanbul!

In 2012, Tom's colleagues accorded him one of the greatest honors an academic can receive: a Festschrift, which is a published collection of essays or learned papers contributed by students and peers to honor an eminent scholar, especially a colleague. These essays were published in volumes 39 and 40 of the Journal of Ottoman Studies. The guest editors of the Festschrift, Gottfried Hagen and Baki Tezcan, spoke about the importance of Professor Goodrich's work, saying that "the study of Ottoman maps, travelogues, and cosmographical works is simply unimaginable without the groundbreaking works of Prof. Goodrich." They also highlighted his extraordinary generosity as a scholar, writing that he had "been most generous to each and all of us, in sharing his knowledge, his insights, and ... materials from his rich collection of texts and manuscripts. In this sense, he has helped to train large parts of the next generation in his field." In this celebration of Tom's career, and indeed in any assessment of his career, one theme stood out: his scholarship was not a mere academic exercise, but informed by his deep affection for the people and culture of Turkey.

Tom greatly valued his membership in the community of scholars, and belonged to several professional scholarly organizations: the American Association of University Professors, the American Oriental Society, the Middle East Studies Association, the Turkish Studies Association, the World History Association, International Congress of Turkish Studies, and the American Historical Association.

During all this time of research, writing, and travel, Tom taught history at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, beginning in 1967. He and Rusty had three boys, one of whom died in infancy. Rusty died in 1973, leaving Tom with two young boys to raise. Nevertheless, Tom plunged into the political work of the university during the turbulent early 70's. In 1973 he was elected Chair of the University Senate, which now had student members, and shepherded through changes in policy that reflected the new balance of power. He was also deeply involved throughout his tenure at IUP in improving the quality of the library and research. He retired from the university in 1994, and received the honor of emeritus status.

Tom married Sarah Fisher Goodrich in 1988, bringing four daughters into his family. In 2000, Tom and Sarah moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where Tom was able to take up teaching again at the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning, offering popular classes on the Middle East, Islamic art, and cartography. To the very end, his was a mind informed by intellectual curiosity and an expansive view of the world. When he died, he was preparing a class on The History of the Ottoman Empire.

There are twelve people in his life, however, who did not think of him as "professor" or "doctor." To these twelve people, he was their much-loved "Granddaddy." He delighted in their company, and went to countless plays, graduations, concerts, swim meets, and soccer games. He rejoiced in their accomplishments, but, more important, celebrated them as the unique individuals they are.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, L. Carrington and Anne Goodrich, his first wife, Carol, their son, Brian, and a brother, Frank. He is survived by his wife, Sarah Fisher Goodrich, and his children: Keith Goodrich, of Bar Harbor, ME, Derek Goodrich, of Enterprise, AL, Elizabeth Fisher Gray (John), of Wilmington, DE, Ann Fisher-Ives (Russell), of Bernalillo, NM, Caroline Fisher Queale, of Baltimore, MD, and Sarah Fisher Rogatz (Jeffrey), of Wilmington, DE. Tom also leaves his grandchildren: Lydia, Ian, and Hannah Gray, Dillon and Keegan Fisher-Ives, Julia, Elliot, and Alison Queale, Nathan and Henry Rogatz, and Laiken and Garrett Goodrich (Indiana, PA). He is also survived by his siblings Sally G. Hurlbert, Anne G. Jones, Hubbard Goodrich (Katherine), and ten nieces and nephews.

The family suggests memorial contributions to the Fulbright Association, 1320 19th Street, NW, Suite 350, Washington, DC 20036 or the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Gift Fund at the University of Delaware in Wilmington, 2700 Pennsylvania Avenue, Wilmington, DE 19806.

The family is planning a private celebration.

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Published in The News Journal from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12, 2015
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