Professor Gerald Goodhardt and Mrs Valerie Goodhardt on the occasion of receiving an honorary doctorate, University of South Australia, 2015.
When Prof Goodhardt was being buried in London, it was already Shabbat in Australia. Rabbi Ian Goodhardt recorded the following message which was played at the funeral.
I have spoken, as a rabbi, at many funerals. I hope you will permit me, on this occasion, to leave the rabbinic duties in the capable hands of Dayan Binstock, and speak to you simply as a grieving son.
At the centre of my father was a core of goodness. And even though it was wrapped within many layers, from the beginning to the end of his life, his goodness kept shining through.
The first layer that people would notice, was my father’s towering intellect. This allowed him to win scholarships to both Marylebone Grammar school and Downing College, Cambridge which would otherwise have been beyond the reach of his parents, whose business life was based on tailoring and dry cleaning.
Following a degree in mathematics, and a graduate diploma in statistics, he was tasked, during his national service with devising a test, which would weed out those with an intelligence level too low to allow them to serve, which would simultaneously detect those who were deliberately trying to fail.
He told the family – just in the past few weeks – how his mother had helped secure his first job, by telephoning the number on his rejection letter, which was an office in Holland, and asking the interviewer to look again and give him another chance. From that point, there was no holding him.
His business and academic career was stellar. I just want to share with you some of his more remarkable achievements, by relating how others have reacted to them. In 2016, a Dutch marketing expert – Wiemar Snijders – wrote an article comparing the work my father and his colleague Andrew Ehrenberg had done to the work of Isaac Newton. Whilst Newton described the natural laws by which the physical world operates, Ehrenberg and Goodhardt have explained how the world of brands and business work, with similar accuracy. Their work has similar significance, he said.
Together they ran a small market research consultancy, which had as clients some of the best-known names in Britain: both Mars and Cadbury-Schweppes as well as the BBC. In his early forties he moved from the business world to that of academia, and before long he was recruited by City University Business School to raise the level of their MBA program to an international standard, and for a time was Dean of the School
The Market Research Society awarded him its gold medal for outstanding work in the field not once, but twice, the only person to have been so honoured. This medal is not awarded annually. Since 1982 there have been only 12 recipients.
The University of South Australia established an entire school of Marketing Science based on the work that my father and his colleague had done. They named the school after Ehrenberg, and in 2015, on the occasion when they awarded my father an honorary doctorate, established an annual Goodhardt Fellowship, which will now be an appropriate memorial to him.
But how was his core of goodness shown? In the 1970s my father realised that most of the people who actually carry out the market research, standing in the wind and rain with clip-boards, walking up to houses and knocking on doors, were middle aged women, many of them widows. Some of them were falling on hard times and so he established the Market Research Benevolent Association, to take care of them. He worked for many charities and was, as many of you will know, the Gabbai Tzedakah of the shul. (Daily attendance at shul was, by the way, a cornerstone of his life. And I shall be forever grateful to everyone at the St Johns Wood morning minyan for the way they all embraced him, and welcomed him back after every time illness forced his absence.)
He carried his achievements lightly, and never wanted people to know about them. Seven years ago, on his ‘2nd barmitzvah’ at the age of 83, he asked me if I would like to speak in the Dayan’s pulpit. I had addressed him as if he were a 13-year-old, taking the opportunity to highlight the things that lay ahead in the next 70 years. Afterwards, although he was appreciative, he said if he had realised that I had planned to speak in that way about him, he would never have asked me.
He was intensely modest. He never thought anything for his own comfort and well-being. I cannot recall him ever having asked for anything, and whenever you asked him if he would like something, or what he would prefer, he always shrug and say he didn’t mind.
Whilst he derived great satisfaction from his work, his only source of joy was his family. He and mum have attended every bar- and batmitzvah, every wedding of every grandchild, wherever it has been in the world. In a family where many of his great-grandchildren share the same names, he has made sure to keep track of each grandchild and great-grandchild, note everyone’s birthday, keep up with their schooling, and take an interest their developing career. Practically the last words he said to me, were in response when I told him that our youngest Shimmy will likely be going ahead with his forthcoming wedding, G-D willing, on the same date in the same venue after weeks of uncertainty. He said, “How wonderful! Send photos.”
He only ever wanted the best for other people: his thousands of students, his colleagues, my sister and me and our families, his dear brother Lionel, who was seven years his senior but who died just a few weeks ago, but most of all my mother, his wife of more than 63 years. The love between my parents has been intense and has only become more so as time has passed. In recent years, as the health of both of them has brought challenges, they both have spoken to me about not wanting the other to know exactly what has been happening, for fear that they would be upset. It has been one of the most touching and loving things I have ever seen. In the past few days, even though every breath was a struggle and my father could barely speak, scared, alone and in pain in his isolation, my father was insistent that mum not know how sick he really was, that I should not under any circumstances come over to be with the family, and that no-one should take any risks to come and see him.
From the beginning to the end the core of his goodness shone through, and he will remain for me, for the large family which has descended from him and mum, and so many others a source of inspiration, hope and courage. Yehi zichro Baruch.