Janice Goodman didn’t have to become a trailblazer in middle age.
At 53, she had managed the Coral Gables medical practice opened by her husband, James Goodman, a prominent South Florida psychiatrist who for three decades practiced at the Miami Veterans Administration Center.
Janice Goodman was an active member of the University of Miami Medical School Faculty Wives group, the Music Club of Coral Gables, the Women’s Panhellenic Association, the Junior League of Miami, the UM Women’s Guild, and the Coral Gables Orchid Society.
She was also raising their daughter Ann, then 13, at home. The Goodmans were philanthropists and active socially. Still, Goodman felt a stirring. She decided to go for her master’s in social work at Barry College (now Barry University).
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“In 2016, it’s not extremely unusual. But I’m thinking in 1975 it was either unusual or courageous to start a master’s degree at 53. That made her an example for all that it is never too late to improve yourself, to get an education or to give back,” Ann Rosalind Goodman said of her mother, who died June 17 at age 94 of complications from a fall.
Goodman, born April 20, 1922, in Tacoma, Washington, to parents of Swedish and Norwegian descent, could trace her interest in healthcare to an early age. Her maternal great-uncles were personal attending physicians to King Oscar of Sweden.
She worked for the American Red Cross and was the executive director of the Tacoma Council of Camp Fire Girls. In 1951, she married James Goodman, who was serving in the Army. Three years later, they settled in Coral Gables.
[She] was an example for all that it is never too late to improve yourself, to get an education or to give back.
Ann Rosalind Goodman on her mother, Janice Stenson Goodman.
“My dad was a psychiatrist and I figured that maybe it was related and they could talk about their work,” Ann Goodman said.
The Goodmans, who were married until James’ death in 2004, had plenty to talk about. After earning her master’s in 1977, Janice joined the Academy of Certified Social Workers and the National Association of Social Workers. She became supervisor of the Child Abuse Treatment Program Unit 458 and gained field experience with the Dade Association for Retarded Citizens.
She worked at Barry University as a clinical instructor and with the South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center until her retirement at 79.
“I’ll never forget how welcoming she was when I first started at SFETC,” said Susan Fleming in a letter to Ann Goodman. “I felt intimidated to work in that setting and Janice gave me inspiration. I always thought, ‘If Janice can do this, so can I.’ She was always so kind, helpful, considerate and most generous with others.”
Goodman’s cousin, Lois Ontell of Washington, D.C., remembers how her work often took her into sketchy territories. Goodman’s adult clients were housed in mental hospitals, some charged with criminal offenses. She was fearless, Ontell said.
“She got very involved with each family and was one of the first social workers that would work on neglected and abused children. She was always buying her clients clothes. She had a love of little dresses and I’m sure lots of her clients got those little-girl dresses,” Ontell said.
Family friend Connie Crowther wrote on the Miami Herald’s obituary guest book: “Janice Goodman was a dedicated social worker whose expertise and kind demeanor made an enormous positive effect on thousands of children and families. She worked until she was nearly 80 assisting families and children in distress.”
Goodman is survived by her daughter and nieces and nephews. A memorial will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 10 at Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 DeSoto Blvd. Donations can be made to the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation.