There’s no more powerful reminder of your own mortality than when one of your peers dies. This recently happened to me, when a significant other from my past died at the age of 68 from liver and organ failure. Pete Goodwin was an important part of my life from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. A scene from Young Frankenstein comes to mind: Cloris Leachman saying in a heavy German accent, “He vas my boyfriend!”
I moved to New Mexico with Pete in 1990. Without his support to make this move, I don’t know if I would have done it by myself. Even though we didn’t endure as a couple, I always held him fondly in my heart. He was so smart and nice. And I have so many items around my house to remind me of him, particularly the woodworking projects he made: beautiful cutting boards, trays, chopsticks, and a wooden letter opener.
Pete Goodwin’s memorial service was held on Sunday, November 11, 2018 at the Unitarian Universalists of New Braunfels, Texas (UUNB). Pete was a lifelong UU member. He was known for saying Unitarians didn’t have the Ten Commandments, they were more like the Ten Suggestions. The large crowd at the service testified to the many lives he touched.
Here is a 50-minute video of the memorial service, with eulogies by close friends John Poss and Terry Jackson, and music provided by Meredith Patterson and Yesenia McNett. The Rev. Addae Kraba, Minister of UUNB, provided the opening and benediction.
Last week the world lost its most loving, intelligent, witty and wise curmudgeon, Pete Goodwin. His family and friends lost an anchor.
Born in Boston January 2, 1950, Peter A. Goodwin died on Saturday, October 20, 2018 after a short illness. He is preceded in death by his parents Richard and Sally Goodwin. He is survived by his wife Lucy Stockman Goodwin and stepson Shane Zech, both of New Braunfels. Also surviving him are his sister Susan Al-Jarrah and her husband Radwan of Al-Mazar, Jordan and Oklahoma City; niece Summer Al-Jarrah Bateiha, her husband Zeyad Bateiha and sons Yousef, Zade and Adam of Doha, Qatar; nephews Thammer R Al-Jarrah of Denver, CO and Abdul-Rahman (Aboudi) Al-Jarrah of Oklahoma City; and niece Sarah R Al-Jarrah, her husband Mohammad A Al-Jarrah, and son Aladdin of Shawnee, Oklahoma and Al-Mazar, Jordan Additionally, Pete was beloved Uncle Pete to numerous friends and their children.
Pete served as a medic in Vietnam. He saw things that he didn’t talk about except to his closest of close friends. He quietly dealt with those memories for his entire life.
Pete was perhaps one of the most darkly funny human beings you will ever meet. He did not suffer fools well. The past couple of years he gave his friends a break by directing his most acerbic observations toward the state of affairs in our beloved country. He was not happy, but he was the funniest version possible of not happy. In the interest of maintaining civil order in Comal County, we will not retell or share his most insightful commentaries. Pete loved his country, but emphatically abhorred the direction in which it is going.
He was a busy man. Instrumental in starting eQuality Homecare Cooperative in New Braunfels, he was on the organizing Board of Directors and he served as its initial Chief Financial Officer. He also was active in the local community: he was involved in Central Texas Advocates for Seniors (CTAS) and facilitated monthly meetings of three groups for dementia caregivers. Working with Communities in Schools, he supplied weekend food backpacks for deserving students for several years; and taught free brain fitness classes at Canyon and New Braunfels high schools as well as for local senior centers and churches. Along with Meredith Patterson, RN, he authored a book, The Five Pillars of Brain Fitness, and taught courses on brain health across the state.
Pete was that rare lifelong Unitarian, son of lifelong Unitarians. Thus he was an active member of Unitarian Universalists of New Braunfels, having served as a past president, initiating many new programs while also offering his perspective on all things UU.
Pete was a true renaissance man. He graduated from Ohio State as an accountant because, well, after Vietnam, he needed a paying job. The world would have been better served if he had trained as a doctor or a research scientist like his father. The man was amazing and was Google before Google: if you needed an answer on virtually any topic, Pete had it. He was just really, really smart – and funny.
Pete we love you and will continue to love you.
And yes, we know, you are up there laughing at us.
The Memorial Service for Pete will be on Sunday, November 11 at 2:00 PM at Unitarian Universalists of New Braunfels, 135 Alves Ln, New Braunfels, TX 78130. Memorials may be made in Pete’s name to Central Texas Advocates for Seniors PO Box 310328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-0328 or Communities in Schools South Central Texas 161 S. Casteel Ave. New Braunfels, TX 78130.
In an ironic twist that Pete might appreciate, at the memorial service, his ashes were still in the black plastic box provided by the cremation service. For a guy who did so much woodworking, he could have been present at his own service in a wooden box of his own making. But, he is probably laughing about it.
This is the picture of Pete circa 1990 that I’ll always remember him by. Rest well, my friend.