NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Sally Goodrich, who founded a girls' school in Afghanistan after her son was killed in the 2001 terrorists attacks, died Saturday, Dec. 18, at her Bennington, Vt., home of cancer.
Goodrich, a longtime educator in the North Adams Public Schools, and her husband, attorney Donald Goodrich, established the Peter M. Goodrich Memorial Foundation, which works primarily in the Pashtun provinces of Afghanistan to support education and community initiatives.
"She was a nice, genuine lady," Mayor Richard Alcombright said on Monday. "She did so much for the school and this community at large."
Alcombright credited Goodrich for "setting the bar" for elementary school reading as Title 1 Coordinator and reeling in nearly $1 million in grant funding each year.
"The most important thing was her strength in setting up the Goodrich Foundation," Alcombright said. "We lose somebody with that kind of passion. She was an important cog in the wheel and she will be missed."
Peter Goodrich was weeks away from his 34th birthday on Sept. 11, 2001, when his plane, United Flight 175, flew into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. His childhood friend Marine Corps Maj. Rush Filson told the Goodriches of the needs in Afghanistan when he was serving there months later.
Sarah "Sally" Goodrich ran the foundation and was a founding and advisory board member of Our Voices Together, a nonprofit network founded in 2005 by 9/11 families and friends to promote grass-roots peace efforts.
It was through Goodrich's work that Natalie Cain first met her. Cain was running a writing program with the Sisters of St. Joseph order when Goodrich and an Afghanistan student came to speak.
"We talked about the love between a mother and a child and one of the things that struck me was how she tried to be in touch with those mothers whose children were flying the planes. Her heart was pained for those mothers who lost a son too," Cain said. "She was able to really show us how we can be."
In the last three years, Cain said she got to know Goodrich well. She would often go to lunch with Goodrich and her husband, Donald. Cain, a cancer survivor, said she connected with Goodrich on a spiritual level.
"I'm very sad," Cain said while she fought off tears on Monday. "I didn't know she was this close. It kind of came out of the blue."
"She never really talked about it bringing her down."
Deborah Rosselli was the director of service learning for the city's school when Goodrich contacted her shortly after the attacks. Goodrich wanted to know if service learning could be done globally and not just locally, Rosselli said on Monday. From there the two developed a learning service program dedicated to educating the local children about Afghanistan.
"Her whole thing was that education was prevention of violence," Rosselli said. "Her humanitarian effort, many of us that want that but for her to actually do it is a tremendous feat."
Local teachers then began educating themselves about the country and developed a curriculum. It started small but just kept growing, she said. It started with the fourth grade and eventually the whole school was engaged, she said.
"I'll always have nothing but love and admiration for her," Rosselli said. "Anybody who had anything to do with them feels like family with them."
"She had so much love and forgiveness. She just kept at it."
Rosselli was invited to Bennington, Vt. on May, 1 where Goodrich was honored by state politicians.
"It was really a stunning celebration in her honor," Rosselli said. "They named the day after her and Vermont big-wigs came down with citations."
Goodrich was named an ABC News "Person of the Week" in 2005, the 2006 recipient of the Northern Berkshire Business and Professional Women's Woman of Achievement Award and received an honorary doctorate from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She and her husband were 2007 recipients of the Martin Luther King Jr. Peacemaker Award from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.
"She really was an inspiration for everybody," said Alan Bashevkin, executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, which presented Goodrich and her husband with the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peacemaker Award in 2007.
He described her as "a legend" in the local schools because of her work as a reading specialist. "She was very strong in that role."
"I think that we more connected with her because of the person she was ... that I connected with her because of the person she was," said Bashevkin. "Any contact we had we relished."
Goodrich and her husband, Donald, receiving the Martin Luther King Jr. Award in 2007.
Her work in developing a school for more than 500 girls in the Pashtun province among other projects has been covered extensively and part of documentary in progress on the couple's work debuted at the Berkshire International Film Festival last year.
She was a 1967 graduate of the University of Vermont and earned her master's degree in education from Boston University.
A service is planned at Old First Church in Bennington on Thursday, Dec. 23, at 3, followed by an Irish celebration at the "Barn" just up the street from the church near the Bennington Monument.
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Many, many good times we all spent together in Cheshire, times we will not forget. What a wonderful woman you became, what a human being, and what a soul mate Don had. We are all going to miss you terribly Sally. You filled all of our hearts with a sense of joy, a sense of humor, a sense of character and integrity. I am so glad I knew you Sally. Mom as well.
Life is not about waiting for the storm . . . its about learning to dance in the rain . . . and you danced so well.
I worked for Sally when I worked for the North Adams Public Schools, she not only was a tremendous boss, she had a certain thing about her that made you feel like you had known her all of your life. She was a very special person and will be sadly missed. I stopped to see her a while back and I am truly glad that I had the little visit. She always had a smile on her face and she really listened to you. She will be sadly missed not only professionaly but on a more personal level. Rest in Peace "SAL' with Peter