City of Madison

Former City of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

Former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's Blog

A Good Man

September 1, 2009 1:45 PM

This morning Irwin Goodman was laid to rest in Forest Hill Cemetery. I was privileged to be there with a small group of mourners including, of course, his surviving brother Robert. Irwin and Bob have been two of Madison's finest citizens for decades. Together they built a successful jewelry business that still bears their name because they imbued that name with quality and good business practices. But they didn't stop with being good businessmen. Irwin and his brother believed in the idea that to those to whom much is given much is required. They gave back to their community in ways that are staggering.

Their most recent gift was the beautiful Goodman Atwood Community Center on Madison's East Side, but for me their most meaningful contribution was the Goodman Pool. One of the promises I made in my 2003 campaign for mayor was that I would support the creation of Madison's first municipal swimming pool. But when I got into office I had no idea how I could find a way to pay for it. Then shortly into my first term, the Goodman's contacted me to say that they wanted to help make it happen. They started with a lead gift, then increased it twice as the construction costs continued to go up.

But the Goodman's aren't just generous, they're also smart. Irwin Goodman understood his community. He knew that we tend to be, well, deliberative. So, the Goodman's made their gift contingent on ground being broken no more than a year after their announcement. That meant that we had to put the long, contentious debate about where to build our pool behind us quickly. I appointed Nino Amato to chair a committee to find the solution and, sure enough, within a few months it was done. It was a brilliant move by the Goodman's. They forced us to work together and to figure it out. As a result Madison has a beautiful pool that is just finishing its third year of operations. It's fitting that Irwin passed away on the eve of the pool's last day of regular operations for the year. Of the many contributions he made to our city I like to believe that maybe the pool was the one of which he was most proud.

Mary Rouse, who was also at this morning's funeral, told me that Irwin was excited by Sunday's Ride the Drive event, which went past his apartment. A very good athlete in his youth and a person with a lifelong interest in good health and athletics, Irwin had the chance to look down on all the happy bikers, joggers and walkers just hours before he died. My guess is that he's still looking over us and sharing all the joy, health and promise that he and Bob have made possible by lives so well led.


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