The Grand Rapids community lost one of its most stalwart and loved members Sunday, appropriately the first full day of spring. Phil Goodspeed lived 93 years, facing all kinds of physical adversity (missing hip, failed kidneys, etc.), but never complained and always greeted friends and family with a smile and kind words. Even in his worst times, Dad focused conversations on others---their jobs, businesses, golf game, fishing luck and love life. He never sought attention, though it came to him in heaps as friends competed to drive him to and from dialysis three times a week for six years. And unbeknownst to the drivers, Dad rated everyone’s car for comfort, drivability and features. He also rated drivers by dimensions such as speed and most talkative.
Dad was the son of Harrison Goodspeed and Frances Ward. He grew up on Lakeside Drive with his older brother, Peter, older sister, Anne, and younger sister, Mary. Peter, who would be a war hero in WWII, was afraid to go away alone to camp at age 12 and convinced Dad, aged 7, to be his escort. Dad agreed if he could bring his Teddy bear. This was the beginning of Dad being the youngest in his surroundings. He attended and always supported The Berkshire School in western Massachusetts. In January of 1945, at the young age of 17 and 2 months, he matriculated at Dartmouth College, one of only 49 in his original class. His class swelled with returning war veterans, which must have been somewhat daunting. Dad had Robert Frost as a professor and became a well-practiced ping pong player in the basement of Beta Theta Pi.
Dad received his BA and MBA from Dartmouth and eschewed the big city to return to the Goodspeed Real Estate Company in Grand Rapids. He married young and had a daughter, Carolyn. After a divorce, Dad met Jane Dooge on a blind date. Jane was home from college her junior summer and was terrified of going out with a man eight years her senior. They ended up dating every night that summer, and thus began an amazing love affair. Mom and Dad married a year later and were inseparable for more than 63 years of marriage.
Despite being the Board President of Planned Parenthood of Western Michigan, Dad fathered four sons over only five years. Impossibly, he attended virtually every sporting event in their lives, often the only parent in attendance. Dad always found time to play catch with the boys after school and coach their baseball teams. He emphasized sportsmanship, school and keeping gloves down on ground balls. Dad was also obsessed with golf and was constantly teaching others and encouraging his sons. Carolyn lived with her mother in Virginia, and Dad and the brothers missed her terribly. She spent summers with him at Northport Point, and Dad spent countless hours with her sailing, swimming, water skiing and having picnics at Seven Pines. Mom and Dad somehow took the boys skiing at Sugar Loaf every weekend until they were in high school.
Near the end, many friends of all ages contacted Dad, a testament to how much he was loved. Without exception, they highlighted Dad’s kindness and gentle soul. It was one reason why Dad was always instantly loved by small children and dogs.
Dad’s love of his fellow men and women, along with dogs, was obvious and contagious. He instilled this love in his children--Carolyn Goodspeed, William Goodspeed (Molly), James Goodspeed (Heidi), Philip Goodspeed Jr. (Darrow) and Thomas Goodspeed (Sheryl), grandchildren---Robert Alexander (Mae), Jessica Turner (Brandon), Anna Goodspeed, Merrill Henderson (Wade), Ellie Goodspeed, Drew Goodspeed (Kelly), Peter Goodspeed, Liza Goodspeed, Jane Goodspeed, Kassia Dombroski (Forest) and Amara Goodspeed, and great grandchildren—Tori Alexander, Dorothy Easter (Drew), Beau Turner and Lorelei Henderson. Dad’s sister-in-law, Marilou Goodspeed (Peter), and sister, Mary Alexander, are also mourning his loss, along with many nephews and nieces and in-laws from Janie’s family (Laurie and Carol Dooge, Mary Taylor).
Our family’s job, which we enthusiastically accept, is to cherish Dad’s memory and keep his kind, gentle spirit alive.
A celebration of Dad’s life will be held at Fountain Street Church later this spring.
To send flowers to Philip's family, please visit our floral store.