Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Robert P. Goodwin, 1925-2012: Ex-BGSU professor admired for dedication

BOWLING GREEN — Robert P. Goodwin, who was honored for his teaching as a philosophy professor at Bowling Green State University and who was a leader on campus and in the community, died Tuesday in Bridge Hospice Care Center. He was 87.

He did not recover from recent esophageal surgery, his daughter, Mary, said.

He retired in 1989 from BGSU, where he was hired in 1961. He was a former chairman of the philosophy department and taught courses in medieval and American philosophy; ethics; love and friendship, and death and dying. A volume was published of his translations from Latin to English of St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings. He also was a translator for the Philosopher’s Index, a leading bibliography.

“He was very easy to get along with,” said Richard Lineback, a retired philosophy professor whom Mr. Goodwin hired in 1965. “He was a good chairman and good teacher, always willing to help students.”

In 1983, the Undergraduate Student Government presented him a faculty excellence award for teaching. The BGSU chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa in 1970 named him a “faculty man of the year.” He served in the 1960s and the 1980s on the Faculty Senate and in the 1970s on the Graduate Council.

In an era when students — and others — questioned authority and asserted their rights, Mr. Goodwin was chairman at BGSU of an “investigative committee on student unrest.” He later was chairman of the Commission to Study the Mission of the University, made up of faculty, students, and trustees. The group's report — which Mr. Goodwin at the time said might upset traditionalists — found that too many classes were routine, fact-dispensing lectures with little student involvement and suggested experimental methods “for improving the creative atmosphere of courses" and a reduced emphasis on published research as a basis for faculty advancement.

He was especially proud of his role as a leader in 1972 in the university's experimental “cluster college," which offered all areas of the humanities in a single 15-hour course taught in the students’ residence halls.

He was a volunteer at the Link, which offers mental health services, and served on the Bowling Green human rights commission. He also was an ethicist at Wood County Hospital. He supported cultural activities and helped at the start in the early 1990s of the Black Swamp Arts Festival, now an annual event.

Still, family came first, son Rob said. "He was a father of 11 children. That was more important than being a scholar and being involved in the community."

He attended Immaculate Conception Seminary. He did not become a priest, but that background led to his study of philosophy, son Rob said. He received a master's degree from Fordham University and a doctorate from Georgetown University. He formerly taught at DePaul University, Chicago.

Surviving are his wife, Elaine, whom he married in January, 1952; daughters, Anne Tracy, Mary Fredricksen, and Sara Mazur; sons, Rob, Tag, Ken, Jamie, Justin, Peter, Stephen, and Philip Goodwin; 33 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. today in the Dunn Funeral Home, Bowling Green, with a Scripture service at 7:45 p.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in St. Thomas More University Parish, Bowling Green. The family suggests tributes to the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry at St. Thomas More.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

or 419-724-6182.

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