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Thomas Goff ’48

July 10, 2018, in Ashland, Oregon.

A one-eyed, left-handed, classically trained humanist from Reed and Berkeley, Tom had a unique style. He was known to cite Longfellow and Dr. William Osler; explore back roads; snitch peaches, flowers, and asparagus from abandoned orchards, sing 1930s church camp songs, and unknowingly create amusing spoonerisms, such as commanding his daughters to “pass the paramecium” cheese at the dinner table.

He was born in Bellingham, Washington, and grew up in Blaine, where his father was the proprietor of Goff’s Department Store. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Merchant Marine as a radio officer in the South Pacific and the Middle East. After the war, Tom earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Reed, writing his thesis, “The Influence of Experimentality Induced Muscular Tension on Variability of Response,” with Prof. Frederick Courts [psychology 1945–69]. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of British Columbia and then got a master’s degree in psychiatric social work from UC Berkeley. He married Kaye Bush Kroman and they had three daughters. In 1956, the family moved to Oregon’s Rogue Valley; Tom and Kaye divorced in 1965.

He was a director of Jackson County Mental Health Clinic, but Tom’s true calling was working with individuals, families, and couples. His work took him to Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska. He was a member of the Rogue Valley Sierra Club, a charter member of the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist congregation, and an early organizer of outdoor ski and hiking groups. Young at heart and steadfast in body—at the age of 80 he climbed Mt. Shasta—he was the oldest member of the Ashland YMCA senior floor exercise class. Quoting from a long-lost source, Tom said, “Give me the late bloomer, the person in their 50s or 60s who says, ‘I haven’t yet made up my mind what I want to do with my life.’”

As a father, Tom shared his love of exploration, backpacking, and fishing, along with a gusto for life and regional conservation efforts. He romped with the family goat and applauded sunsets at mountain lakes. He is survived by his daughters, Mary and Joanna. His youngest daughter, Betsy, preceded him in death.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2018

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