Jane Goldberg, a community activist and philanthropist and a committed champion of Grays Harbor College, died Monday at home in Aberdeen, a little more than two years after being diagnosed with ALS. She was 71.
Goldberg was born in Hartford, CN, but her family settled in Bellevue and she graduated from Sammamish High School. She came to Grays Harbor in the early 1970s. She and her husband, Larry, met in a class at the University of Washington, where she was a journalism student. He returned to Aberdeen to be part of his family’s furniture business, and she went to work as a reporter for The Daily World.
“Jane Goldberg always had perfect timing,” said her longtime friend and former Daily World Publisher John Hughes, who was the assistant city editor when Goldberg joined the news staff. “A versatile, talented writer fresh from the University of Washington’s first-rate journalism program, Jane arrived at The Daily World in an era when the ‘Society’ page was being replaced by topical ‘lifestyle’ stories. Her stories had sparkle and insight. Best of all, she was a wonderful teammate and friend.”
Goldberg served on the Aberdeen School Board for 20 years, much of it as president. Her daughter Amy remembers a mother who modeled the responsibility of giving back to the community one lives in. She said her mother managed a whirl of school and sports activities involving her and her three siblings, jumping in to help volunteer and organize.
Goldberg and her friend Bette Worth pushed, promoted and raised funds for the World Class Scholar program that has paid tuition at Grays Harbor College for hundreds of students on Grays Harbor.
In the two years since Goldberg was diagnosed with arterial lateral sclerosis, Worth visited her friend daily. Lately, that’s been a FaceTime visit, but Monday Amy suggested she come in person one more time.
“To the end, she was a trouper,” said Worth. “She didn’t want to miss anything and always wanted to be involved. She was just a wonderful, wonderful friend.”
When longtime Daily World sports editor Rick Anderson first came to the paper from college, Goldberg helped him make the transition.
“She had noticed I was struggling adjusting to life on Grays Harbor after coming from Seattle,” he said. “She said she had initially experienced some of the same feelings but, if I gave it a chance, that I’d find things to do and that living and working here was worthwhile. That was not only good advice, but it also typified her attitude.”
He said she was “a fine reporter, very accurate and meticulously fair. … After she left journalism to raise a family, nearly everything she did outside the family realm — her school board service, her work at the college, her volunteerism — was to benefit the community in general and the youth of the community in particular. She wasn’t necessarily the easiest person to get to know. But once you did, she was a friend for life. “
Anderson said, “It’s fair to say that her contribution to the community far exceeded her journalistic contribution. Particularly for a non-native, she was exceptionally dedicated to bettering the community almost from the time I knew her. As the school board reporter, she covered the first Aberdeen teachers strike. That was the first teachers strike in the state and for most reporters it would have been a plum assignment, but she didn’t enjoy it at all because she saw how it was tearing apart relations within the school district and the city.”
She was active in the American Red Cross for years. Her daughter Amy said her mother’s contributions weren’t always public. “Sometimes it was quietly, behind the scenes,” she said. “She was very involved in Temple Beth Israel, and really kept it alive and meaningful to many people.”
Goldberg’s job as public information officer for Grays Harbor College was a “dream-come-true job,” her daughter said, “because it married her journalism background and her love of the community.”
Ed Brewster, a former president of the college who retired and just returned as interim president, said Goldberg’s value to the school went way beyond her job description. “She was a good adviser for me about community issues and things that were sort of brewing in the community, because she had a sense of the pulse for things that were going on.”
Although the progression of the disease made it impossible for her to write in a physical sense, with the help of technology, she was still writing for the college as recently as last week and Brewster said she wrote the news release about his return a month ago.
“She never wanted to receive any recognition or any kind of attention to herself for all the great things she did,” he said. “It was all about about serving other people, whether it was at the college or outside the college. … I’m learning now about things she did, that I didn’t know she did, attending to people, sending congratulatory cards to people when children were born … she just took care of a lot of stuff. … It’s a huge loss to the college, but the biggest loss is of her person. We’re just really going to miss her. “
In addition to her husband, Larry, she is survived by their four children, Amy Goldberg Rowley of Olympia, Carrie Goldberg of Brooklyn, N.Y.; David Goldberg of Seattle and Lauren Goldberg of Los Angeles; and five grandchildren.