Recent Obituaries
In Memoriam Archive

Shirley Petersen Goldberg ’45

In 2018, in Nanaimo, BC, Canada.

Passionately dedicated to teaching and film, Shirley eventually combined the two. At the age of 89, she was awarded the Film Paragon Award at the Vancouver Island Short Film Festival, acknowledging a lifetime not only of teaching, exhibiting, and reviewing film, but of inspiring others to produce, exhibit, and love film.

She majored in literature at Reed and wrote her thesis, “Morgen and Marco, a Play,” with Prof. Victor Chittick [English 1921–48] advising. During her years at Reed, Shirley cherished the lectures of Prof. Barry Cerf [literature 1921–48], Prof. Monte Griffith’s [psychology 1926–54] jokes, and the intellectual history seminars of Prof. Rex Arragon [history 1923–74]. She loved classes with Prof. Lloyd Reynolds [art & English 1929–69], ice skating on the lagoon, and the endless debates about Stalin and Trotsky. Shirley would long remember the haunting first night on campus after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

“Reed’s combination of a high-class multidisciplinary liberal studies program with a zesty infusion of iconoclasm provides a rare and invaluable educational background,” she said. “It doesn’t exactly make one a team player in academia—but so much the better!”

After earning her master’s degree in English from UCLA, she taught at Los Angeles City College, at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay, and finally at Vancouver Island University (formerly Malaspina College) in Nanaimo, Canada. She arrived at Malaspina in 1973, shortly after the college opened, and started a weekly international cinema series, which continues to this day. When she retired from teaching English and literature full time, she developed and taught the first film studies course at the university as a part-time instructor. She experimented with postcolonial, multicultural, and science fiction film courses 

for British Columbia’s Knowledge Network and was an organizer for Nanaimo’s annual Global Film Festival, which screens documentary films on peace, environment, and justice. 

A journalist and arts critic, Shirley was the film and media columnist for Humanist Perspectives magazine, and her film reviews for Canadian Dimension magazine provided readers with political context. She cohosted a radio show, and eventually wrote a blog, The Big Picture.

For Shirley, film literacy went hand in glove with global humanist causes. “Film is the most deeply humanistic art form today,” she said. “I love the way film effortlessly crosses cultural boundaries. It offers fresh new ways to interpret, understand, and deal with the issues of our time. Film enriches our lives by offering revelatory glimpses into the beauty of our world and of human potential itself.”

Shirley was actively involved with her community, including the Nanaimo Film Commission, the Global Village society, Crimson Coast Dance Society, United for Peace and Justice, and many other local organizations. She is survived by her children, Kim and Lawrence Goldberg.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2019

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