Rick Goddard was born on September 29, 1952, in South Bend, IN. He was raised in Mishawaka, IN. He was the fifth child in a family of 14 children. His strong sense of identity and self-reliance was evident at a young age. He was given a natural gift for languages which was to serve him well. When Rick was a sophomore at Penn High School, his French teacher, Leah Silver, presented him with a unique opportunity. There was a new program called School Boys Abroad (now School Year Abroad, or SYA), sponsored by elite East Coast boarding schools. Rick took tests to qualify, received a full scholarship, and found the turning point of his life. He would spend a school year in Rennes, France. He lived there with his host family: Pierre and Geneviève du Merle and their six children, Henri, Alain, Véronique, Clotilde, Béatrice, and Christophe, with whom he maintained a lifetime friendship.
On the advice of Walter Bergin, his SYA math teacher, Rick attended Oberlin College, where he majored in French and theater. He spent his junior year in Paris and Florence on his self-created study of art, culture, literature, and language. He graduated with a BA in 1974.
Rick spent the next two years doing community organizing with Virginia Community Development Organization (VCDO) in Petersburg, VA. He worked in counties in Virginia and North Carolina with majority Black populations who had been disenfranchised. He helped bring together leaders in their communities to collectively identify and resolve problems and seize political power through expanded voter turnout. These experiences created a desire to attend law school. In 1976, he went to Washington & Lee University School of Law in Lexington, VA. He distinguished himself academically and graduated in 1979 with Order of the Coif honors.
Rick joined Calfee, Halter & Griswold in the summer of 1979. He spent his entire forty-two-year career there as a litigator until his retirement at the end of 2020. He had the pleasure and honor of working with colleagues he greatly admired. He was a charter member of the Inns of Court for most of his career. He was a unique and devoted mentor to many young lawyers in the firm.
Rick presented his most insistent case to the first woman W&L law professor, Anne Unverzagt. He and his beloved Anne were finally married on November 24, 1979, in Lexington, VA, in her rented farmhouse. She moved to Cleveland, and they welcomed Timothy Unverzagt Goddard (Tug) on October 22, 1980, Kathryn Unverzagt Goddard (Kate) on November 20, 1983, Elizabeth Unverzagt Goddard (Libby) on April 23, 1987, and Margaret Unverzagt Goddard (Maggie) on March 26, 1989. Rick’s full devotion to his family was legendary. Bonding trips with Dad were truly memorable but so were the many everyday moments of inspiration and encouragement. He was so very proud of who his children are and how loving, generous, and kind they became.
Rick believed strongly in service to others in his community. The depth of that commitment was due to his natural leadership talents and his genuine sense of gratitude. He coached Cleveland Heights Community Services soccer for 13 years. He was on the Board of the Music School Settlement for 21 years and served several terms as its President. He was also on the Board of ChamberFEST for 10 years and served several terms as President there. He took on leadership of the Building and Grounds Committee at the Rowfant Club and transformed the premises in two short years. He contributed every year to School Year Abroad, the program that changed his life so significantly. He worked with Edward Sloat to create The Edward and Betty Sloat Foundation, which served underprivileged youth in Cleveland for 15 years. From that came years of devotion to the Fatima Family Center in Hough, Metro Catholic School in Detroit Shoreway, and the House of Champions at Urban Community School. He spent years of Saturday mornings at Japanese Language School trying to master Japanese while contributing legal advice to the program. He was also on the Board of the Trout Club at the Natural History Museum.
What can you say about a man who makes himself a pierogi costume on his WWII Singer sewing machine for the Slavic Village Pierogi 5K Dash? Rick was known by many as a “Renaissance” man. His interests were always pursued with great intensity. He never stopped learning, and the range of his learning was vast. One of his greatest joys was hosting guest musicians for Apollo’s Fire and ChamberFEST and cooking for them. Lifelong friends have resulted. He spent a week each year at Brule in Wisconsin and at Spruce Creek in Pennsylvania for fly fishing gatherings that meant the world to him. He also was their favorite cook. We gave him the basement for his many hobbies and the kitchen so that he could nurture every guest and us with his adventuresome cooking.
As he once said, “I think the most important thing we can do as humans is to create opportunity for others.” The family invites you to honor and celebrate him in the spirit of this commitment.
Donations in Rick’s memory may be made to School Year Abroad, 120 Water Street, Suite 310, Andover MA 01845, www.sya.org or to the organizations and changemakers in your community.
He requested that we end his obituary with the last verse from “The Parting Glass,” one of the Irish songs which he loved dearly:
Oh all the comrades that e’re I had
They’re sorry for my going away.
And all the sweethearts that e’re I had
They’d wish me one more day to stay.
But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not,
I’ll gently rise and then softly call,
Good night, and joy be with you all.