Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Jesse Goodman

As long as he could, Jesse Goodman outran old age

PALM HARBOR — Jesse Goodman never thought of himself as an old man.

While the other nonagenarians at his retirement community compared maladies and griped about getting older, Mr. Goodman cracked jokes about his hearing aid and counted the days to his next birthday party.

He planned talent shows for his neighbors and wore Mickey Mouse ears to cheer up the sick.

He didn't exercise, didn't diet, didn't take any special vitamins and long after his body and mind began to fail him, he refused to talk about death.

Mr. Goodman was enamored with the business world and became vice president of a Hawaiian company that created clothing lines for hotels and airlines. Acquisitions, meetings and marketing tactics were his Botox.

"Work was his hobby," said his son, Doug Goodman, 59. "That's what kept his mind active."

He retired to Clearwater about 20 years ago, but refused to succumb to the banality of retired life. He volunteered for the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Pinellas County SCORE Chapter, a free counseling service for small businesses.

When his wife began to volunteer at the Morton Plant Hospital gift shop, he followed her.

For 15 years, he cheered up patients as part of the hospital's clown troupe. He didn't want to dress up, so he wore a pin that read "plain clothes clown division," and put on his Mickey ears.

He assembled a cart full of Marx Brothers movies and Saturday Evening Post cartoons and pushed it into patients' rooms.

"He said if it wasn't for comedy and having a positive attitude, he wouldn't have survived into his 90s," said Leslie Gibson, founder of the hospital volunteer program called Comedy Connection.

If someone wasn't in the mood for comedy, he asked them about their life and he told them about his: three heart attacks, two children, one hip replacement.

He was aghast when his son suggested he and mom move into Stratford Court, a Palm Harbor retirement community.

"He couldn't understand people who would bemoan the fact that they were such and such age and they just felt so old," said his wife, Betty Goodman.

At Stratford, Mr. Goodman founded a knitting group, set up a concierge desk for residents with questions, posted jokes on the bulletin board, organized a birthday card pool and launched an annual comedy show.

"His philosophy was 'you've got these senior citizens sitting around and they are so bored they just count their toes,' " said Marianne Brauning, the activities director at Stratford Court. "He would say, 'count your blessings, not your toes.' "

At 92, Mr. Goodman could no longer outrun old age.

His memory abandoned him. Some days, he thought he was on a cruise. On others, he said he was in business meetings. Then he forgot his son's name.

His daughter, Diane, died of liver cancer in December, and he never knew.

In his last week, Mr. Goodman could no longer recognize his wife of 66 years.

He died on a Thursday, his hair white and his skin wrinkled.

.Biography

Jesse Goodman

Born: June 1, 1916.

Died: Jan. 15, 2009.

Survivors: son, Doug Goodman; wife, Betty Goodman, two grandchildren; one great grandchild.

Services: private.

As long as he could, Jesse Goodman outran old age 01/20/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 10:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Southern Heritage group draws fire for posting personal information of Confederate statue opponents

    Politics

    TAMPA — Curtiss Wilson is an 89-year-old Tampa resident who fought in the civil rights movement.

    A report by Save Southern Heritage Florida includes the "affiliation" of more than 100 people who spoke at the July 19 commission meeting in favor of removing  the Confederate monument from in front of the old county courthouse in Tampa. People on the list say the report was meant to intimidate and harrass opponents of the monument. Save Southern Heritage director Doug Guetzloe said the report is "opposition research" meant to to inform elected officials about who was speaking on the issue.
[Save Southern Heritage Florida]
  2. Gen. Votel interview: 'A bit of a stalemate' in Afghanistan, but a chance to optimize gains there

    Military

    In developing the plan for the war in Afghanistan that he announced Monday night, President Donald Trump consulted with advisers including his military leaders throyugh their chain of command.

  3. Water Street Tampa unveils illustrations showing downtown's transformation

    Business

    TAMPA — Water Street Tampa, the sweeping, 50-plus acre redevelopment project in Tampa's urban core, has unveiled new images and video of what the downtown district will look like upon completion.

    Strategic Property Partners released a conceptual image of what the Tampa skyline will look like once its redevelopment of 50-plus acres of downtown will look like. [Photo courtesy of  of SPP]
  4. Bill Nelson shares Rick Scott's cautious stance on Confederate monuments

    Blogs

    On the issue of Confederate monuments, Sen. Bill Nelson is taking the cautious route of Gov. Rick Scott.

  5. St. Pete Beach to vote on loosening drinking rules for hotel guests

    News

    ST. PETE BEACH — The city commission will vote Tuesday night whether to allow alcohol on the beach.

    Registered hotel guests would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at their cabanas on the beach under a new rule the St. Pete Beach City Commission is considering. [Times files]