Former Legislator Known As 'Conscience Of The Assembly'
June 12, 2007
By PETER DOWNS, Courant Staff Writer
Dorothy Cheney Goodwin, a highly respected member of the General Assembly who worked tirelessly to improve educational opportunities for Connecticut children, died Sunday at her Bloomfield home. She was 92.
Goodwin, formerly of Mansfield, served as state representative for the 54th District, beginning in 1974. She served five consecutive terms, spending six years as House chairwoman of the education committee, before retiring in 1985. She was deemed "the conscience of the Assembly" by many of her colleagues during her 10 years of service.
"She was one of my most favorite legislators," said former state representative and Republican gubernatorial candidate Julie Belaga of Westport. "I admired her tremendously."
Goodwin's life was filled with extraordinary achievements, friends and associates said. She also had the ability to understand and relate to people from all walks of life, said Kevin Sullivan, former Senate president pro tem. "Dorothy had a wide circle of admirers," Sullivan said.
Known for her modesty, Goodwin had a strong Connecticut social pedigree.
Born in Hartford, September 2, 1914, daughter of Charles Archibald Goodwin and Ruth Cheney Goodwin, she was the granddaughter of the man for whom Hartford's Goodwin Park is named. Her lawyer father wrote the legislation establishing the Metropolitan District Commission.
As a legislator, her efforts were directed mostly toward children, those who worked with her in the legislature said.
She worked to fashion a school funding formula that would distribute state money to cities and towns as equitably as possible. Members of the General Assembly had "a moral obligation" to equalizing educational financing, Goodwin said in an op-ed piece published in The Courant in 1977.
"What a wonderful woman, what a tremendous loss," said Comptroller Nancy Wyman, who served with Goodwin in the Assembly. "She was dedicated to her district, to the state of Connecticut and, most importantly, to the children of Connecticut."
"I think it would be impossible to find someone who even comes close to her in terms of their impact on the state," said Jonathan Pelto, who held the 54th District seat for a decade following Goodwin's retirement. "Even if you didn't like her philosophy, you stood up and listened because she was the smartest person in the room."
Goodwin had a remarkably diverse career, according to friends. After her graduation from Smith College in 1937, she joined the Bureau of Indian Affairs as an intern, and then was hired by the Department of Interior. During World War II, she was sent to India as a senior intelligence officer.
After the war, she joined the U.S. Foreign Agriculture Organization and was sent to Japan. There, from 1947 to 1952, Goodwin worked on the nation's postwar reconstruction.
She was the only American assigned to work with the Japanese crop insurance program. She also represented the U.S. in devising land reclamation and reform programs.
She returned to Hartford in 1952 and earned her doctorate three years later from the University of Connecticut, where she taught economics until 1965. She then became the assistant provost at the University of Connecticut in charge of university planning, retiring in 1974.
A memorial service will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 120 Sigourney St., Hartford.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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