Robert Goodman

1919 - 2005

Geography professor at Wayne State University, died April 15, 2005, at age eighty-six.

The youngest of four children, Goodman was born in Gwinn in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He studied geography at the University of Chicago, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 1941, he went to work for the U.S. Army Map Service in Chicago and in 1942, was drafted by the Army to make war-related maps in Washington. He was honorably discharged as a technical sergeant in 1945.

Goodman earned his PhD in geography at Northwestern University. He also met his wife, Marjorie Smith, a fellow geography student at Northwestern; they married in 1950.

He joined Wayne State University’s geography department in 1948.

In his teaching, Goodman used more than 10,000 photo slides from a lifetime of trips to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.  Before the days of computers, he also allowed students to draft their maps in his Grosse Pointe Woods basement, which was filled with overhead cameras, tables, desks, and maps. He eventually incorporated film into his lesson plans and made a movie called “Growth Patterns in Detroit.”

In 1961, Goodman earned a Fulbright scholarship to spend a year in India to establish a geography department at the University of New Delhi.

He won numerous accolades including the Wayne State Excellence in Teaching Award in 1979 and a Distinguished Teaching Award from the NCGE in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, in 1983. Goodman retired in 1983.

Robert Goodman (Necrology). 2005. AAG Newsletter 40(6): 19.