September 4, 2009 10:42 AM
I missed the Chancellor's convocation on Tuesday, where she welcomes the new UW freshman to campus. I missed it but I'm sure I wasn't missed. The campus area alders filled in for me and I'm told did a great job.
I wasn't there because I was at the funeral for Irv Goodman, a Madison businessman and philanthropist who passed away at age 94. Irv first saw Madison as a college student, attending a track meet as a member of the University of Minnesota team. And I thought to myself as I stood at Irv's grave that about a mile away there were 6,000 or so college freshmen, any one of whom could turn out to make the contributions that Irv and his brother Robert have made to Madison. Or there could be a future mayor in that group. If that's the case I only ask that they wait their turn.
But I also thought back on my moving to Madison as a student exactly 30 years ago this weekend. I came as a transfer student and moved into a little efficiency apartment on Doty Street, a building that still stands today but probably isn't long for this world. I didn't know a soul in the entire city. But it didn't take me long in that first weekend, walking around the city, to decide that this is where I wanted to stay even after I graduated. Since then most of my career has been about inventing jobs and reasons to stay here, and now I'm legally required to live here. What could be better. Thirty years later I know a few more people.
So, as I think back about the good life of Irv Goodman and about all those freshmen discovering their city, I'm reminded of the pull Madison has for some of us. We're lucky to find a place that grabs us and makes us settle down because the most comforting thing in a world that can be tumultuous is a place that we can call home.