Avery Lee Goodrich Sr., made the most difficult things in life look easy but it took courage, focus, determination, perseverance, hard work, compassion and hope. He used these gifts to inspire others to succeed in life. Avery Lee Goodrich was a gold star educator and a humble servant of God. As a son, husband, father, grandfather and educator he found great joy in helping others identify their own passion and shine. Avery Lee Goodrich was an exceptional man.
Avery was born on September 30, 1928 in Jackson, Tennessee, the ninth child in the union of Joseph Ballard and Ovallie Goodrich. Christ guided his steps from a very early age. He was baptized at St. Paul C.M.E. Church in Jackson, Tennessee. Avery’s parents made sure he got a formal education at North Jackson Elementary School and Merry High School in Jackson, Tennessee. It sowed the seeds for a career that would have great community impact. Avery received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Lane College in 1954 and continued his education at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where he earned a Masters of Arts degree in Education Administration. In 1963 his post-graduate work took him to New York University in New York.
The only break in Avery’s focus on education was serving in the United States Army. Once again his gift of determination took him to great heights. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in Fort Benning, Georgia. During his military career he became a Captain and he received the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious achievement in 1968. But his crowning achievement would take place after the military. He returned home to marry the love of his life and soul mate, Mildred Yvonne Butler. They united in holy matrimony in 1954, a year later moved to Milwaukee and joined St. Matthew C.M.E Church under the pastorate of Reverend W.J.G McLin. Avery and Mildred shared 57 beautiful years together and cherished their three children Avery Jr., Kay and Alan. Avery loved his family with every breath of his life.
When it came time to support his family, Avery knew exactly which path to take. He was a natural born educator. He began in 1957 as a supervisor in the Milwaukee Public School System. He taught at Jewish Vocational, Lincoln High School and Roosevelt Jr. High School. He was the first African American in Milwaukee to serve as principal on the Elementary, Junior High and High School levels of education. Once again Avery’s gifts of focus and hard work led him to a fast track of achievement. He was promoted to Principal of Garfield Elementary School in 1968, Principal of Wells Junior High School in 1971 and went on to become Principal at North Division High School, John Muir Middle School and Audubon Middle School. Avery had a saying, “It was a great day for learning”. To Avery, every day was a great day for learning. He received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career and hosted a television program called, “Blackboard of Reasoning”. But the greatest accolade you could bestow upon Avery was to take his reasoning, dig deep into your heart and cultivate your own potential.
Avery was a devoted member of St. Matthew C.M.E. church, Lane College Alumni Association, Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternities. He was a counselor at the W.E.B. DuBois Club. Avery reveled in the company of family, loved being with good friends, appreciated his new acquaintances and continued to inspire others long after his retirement.
Avery was a strong Christian man. He was a devoted husband and father and adored his grandchildren. Avery was always on-the-move. He loved to travel, golf, read and share his thoughts in a book club. Avery enjoyed solving crossword puzzles most people would give up on.
Surrounded by family, Avery peacefully entered eternal life on Saturday, April 28, 2012. Preceding him in death was his beautiful wife, Mildred Yvonne Goodrich, his parents, Joseph Ballard Goodrich and Ovallie Goodrich, six brothers, Francis Groodrich, Ernest Goodrich, Joseph II Goodrich, James Goodrich, Oneal Goodrich and Charles Goodrich and three sisters, Paullyn Caruthers, Grace Hurst and Addie Berry. Avery’s children will cherish his memory; Avery Jr., Kay (Eric) Goodrich-Procter of Bowie, Maryland, Alan Goodrich. His five precious grandchildren will continue his legacy; Thomas Proctor, Avery Goodrich III, Kaylin Proctor, Alexander Goodrich and Allen Lyles. Avery leaves one sister, Ovallye Boles of Shaker Heights, Ohio and one brother, Mardent Goodrich of Cleveland, Ohio and one sister- in-law, Barbara Butler. His Goddaughters Peggy Swift and Joya Jones and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and other relatives and friends will cherish his memory.
Avery made the most difficult things in life look easy but it required courage, focus, determination, perseverance, hard work, compassion and hope. These gifts led Avery Lee Goodrich to a life of faith, accomplishment, devotion, love and fulfillment. In his memory, may he continue to teach us about a virtuous life, from heaven.