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John Hamilton GoddardApril 8, 1924 ~ April 4, 2017 (age 92)
John Hamilton Goddard, of Ponte Vedra Beach, died peacefully on the morning of April 4, 2017, four days shy of his 93rd birthday. His wife, Pat, and youngest son, Brian, were by his side.
John’s passing ended a long and remarkable life. Hammie, as he was known as a child, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on April 8, 1924, the only child of Ethel (Hamilton) and Edward Goddard. His parents separated and divorced when he was very young; indeed, he recalled meeting his father only once. When he was a small boy his mother moved to the United States to chart a new life, and while she established herself in New York City John was raised for several formative years by his loving grandmother and devoted uncles and aunts. He recalled a very secure and happy childhood in Glasgow, and looked back with great fondness and gratitude to his loving family there.
At the age of 14, John traveled to America to join his mother, crossing the Atlantic alone on the ocean-liner Transylvania and arriving in New York dressed in the traditional Scottish kilt. While he was proud of his Scottish heritage he also strove to fit in quickly in his new life. He met friends through his love of soccer and, upon completing high school in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhoods of New York, proudly enlisted in the United States Army, where a mentor suggested he apply for Officer’s Training School and in which he rose to the the rank of first lieutenant. His first assignment was as Amphibian Engineer Shore Unit Commander.
Only days before deploying to the Pacific theater to serve in World War II, John attended a USO dance in Manhattan. There, he met the first great love of his life, Eleanore Ann Farrell, an Irish Catholic beauty from Brooklyn for whom he was instantly and permanently enthralled. He wrote to her nearly every day through his three-year wartime tour of duty, during which he saw combat and was stationed throughout the Pacific, including in Guam and the Phillipines.
Upon returning to New York at the conclusion of the war, John reunited with his beloved Eleanore. He converted to Catholicism and the two were married on June 1, 1946.
Theirs was a great love affair and quintessentially American story. They moved from Brooklyn to Madison, Wisconsin, so that John could attend college at the University of Wisconsin on the GI Bill. They lived in a cold water flat; John attended classes during the daytime and drove a taxi-cab at night to earn money for food and rent. They celebrated the birth of their first son, John Hamilton Jr.
Upon graduating with a degree in journalism, John returned with Eleanore to New York to look for work. One day as he was going from business to business to leave off resumes, he stopped by the Equitable Life Assurance Company. Fortune smiled, and John was hired immediately for an entry level position at “The Equitable,” beginning a distinguished career that lasted for more than 35 years. By the time he retired, John was among the highest ranking officers of the company; he had risen to the position of executive vice president and was cited by the Board of Directors for extraordinary accomplishments and contributions.
While still in New York, John and Eleanore celebrated the birth of a second son, Michael Charles. As John accepted transfers to jobs with increasing levels of responsibilities the family moved to a number of locations across the country. These included Columbus, Ohio, where a third son, Kevin Alan, was born; Omaha, Nebraska; St. Louis, Missouri; and Cleveland, Ohio. While in Cleveland, the family welcomed a fourth son, Brian David. John returned to Equitable’s home office at Rockefeller Center in New York to finish his career, which might be best summarized by his frequent recollection: “There wasn’t a single day of work that I didn’t look forward to.”
John was a man who deeply enjoyed and celebrated his life and family. His is a legacy of great kindness and generosity. In addition to his enduring love for Eleanore and for his family, his enthusiasms were many; friends, travel, fishing, photography, music, golf and tennis were among them. He loved his toys and gadgets and happily accumulated many. He dressed with a flair. He had a sharp mind and strong opinions, balanced by a wonderfully quick wit and an engaging personality. He was blessed with great health throughout his long life. He was strong, loving and generous. He was playful, kind and gentlemanly, and was loved by many.
Upon retiring from the Equitable, John moved with Eleanore to Lake Wylie, South Carolina. They enjoyed a prosperous and healthy retirement and brought together their ever-growing family for joyful reunions every several years. They loved their daughters- in-law as they loved their sons. They took great joy in their many grandchildren. In a life filled with many joys and blessings, their love of family remained the bedrock and defining characteristic of their lives.
John and Eleanore moved to Vicar’s Landing, in Ponte Vedra Beach, in 2000. Eleanore passed away on January 29, 2006.
In 2007, at the age of 82, John met the second great love of his life, Patricia Mason. The two became inseparable and were married early in 2008. They enjoyed planning travels together and were deeply committed to each other. Their blossoming, late-in-life love was marked by an uncommon richness and tenderness. Together they celebrated a decade of love, devotion and companionship, living together at Vicar’s Landing until John passed away, with Pat by his side.
John is survived by his wife, Patricia; by his sons and daughters-in-law, John and Sandy, Michael and Cecily, Kevin and Tasha, and Brian and Lisa; by his grandchildren, Kristin, John III, Peter, Maureen, Matthew, Mark, Patrick, Timothy, Christopher, Brian and Laura, and by 23 great grandchildren.
John would often say, with a smile and with great pride, “Look what I started!”
John’s family expresses its deep and profound gratitude to the staff at Vicar’s Landing, particularly at The Stratford and the Health Center, who provided unwavering loving care during the final years and months of his life.
Visitation will be from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 12th in Quinn-Shalz Funeral Home, following A Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at 4:00 p.m., in Our Lady Star of The Sea Catholic Church. Interment will follow in Ponte Vedra Valley.