Funeral and Beyond

Ed Petit goes "Down There"

Before there were celebrations of life, there were funerals. The funeral of David Goodis was conducted on January 10, 1967 at 1 p.m., at Rosenberg's and Raphael Sacks funeral home, 4720 North Broad Street, about two blocks from Superior Billiards.

Grave of David Goodis

Len Cobrin described the funeral as a “rather shabby affair.” It was “a routine Jewish funeral.” The arrangements were made by David’s cousins Samuel and William Goodis, who were the executors of his estate. “The casket was gray cloth over wood--the cheapest next to a pine box. It looked very morbid,” Cobrin said.

The funeral home was “sold out.” “All the friends were there,” Cobrin said. James Freed asked one of the executors where should the friends go for the shiva (the Jewish mourning ritual). The executor answered, “We didn’t know he had any friends.”

David Goodis was buried in Roosevelt Memorial Park, next to his parents. “Most of the friends did not go to the cemetery,” Cobrin said. “About five or 10 of us went to the Toddle House (a coffee shop near Broad and Belfield Streets in Logan, a couple of blocks south of the funeral home). Over lunch we eulogized David.”

Andrew Kevorkian recalls funeral of David Goodis. YouTube by Duane Swierczynski

A noir rememberance of the funeral is offered by public relations executive Andrew Kevorkian. A year or two before David's death, Kevorkian joined Paul Garabedian on a visit to the Goodis home. Garabedian and Goodis had gone to Simon Gratz High School together. At this point, David's life was taking a dive. His literary output was drying up. He was ill with heart disease. His brother was institutionalized. In September 1966, his mother died. Shortly thereafter, he checked into a mental hospital. Kevorkian said Goodis appeared to be "fed up with the world, . . . . fed up with life, . . . . and burned out."

Garabedian and Kevorkian went to the Goodis funeral. Kevorkian remembered that there was "not much more than a minyan" at the funeral home. (In traditional Judaism a "minyan" or minimum of 10 males is required for a religious service). "The rabbi obviously did not know him," Kevorkian said. "The rabbi said that he understood that the departed was a writer. When nobody spoke up about David, the rabbi spoke about the contributions of writers and artists to society."

Kevorkian recalls going to the cemetery with Garabedian, so there would be a few people at graveside. He and Garabedian did not go to a gathering after the burial.

Toddle House, Broad and Belfield Streets, where friends gathered after the funeral.

I obtained his probate file from the Register of Wills in Philadelphia City Hall. On January 13, 1967, his will was probated at No. W-219 of 1967. The Petition for Letters Testamentary listed no wife. His executors filed an Inventory listing assets of $221,271.49. Included in this figure was about $18,000 in bank accounts, about $10,000 in shares of National Securities and Research Corporation, about $4750 in shares in the Putnam Fund, about $82,000 in shares of AT&T, and about $1400 in Series E U.S. Savings bonds purchased during World War II. The Inventory listed $437.50 in death benefits payable from the Producers-Writers Guild of America and publication rights estimated at $5000. His estate owned a 70 per cent share in the Estate of Mollie Goodis valued at $98,222.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis publishes a "Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items." The index rates January 1, 1967 at 32.9, August 1, 1983 at 100, and February 1, 2006 at 198.7. Therefore, the value of the Goodis Estate in 1967 should be approximately six times greater in 2006 dollars. At the time of his death, David Goodis was worth about $1.3 million in 2006 dollars. Subtracting his share in his mother's estate, Goodis would have been worth about $700,000 in 2006 dollars.
Dutch Silver with cue stick and Big Fred at the Goodis plot in Roosevelt Memorial Park, January 26, 2006.

On September 14, 1966, David Goodis executed his will. He left all his personal items to his brother Herbert. He left $30,000 to "our family's faithful employee" Camelia Edmunds. The remainder was to be held in trust with the income going to Herbert. Upon Herbert's death, half of the trust fund would go to the "faithful family employee" or her heirs. Another $5,000 was to go to his cousin and best friend Edwin Sherman. The remainder was to go the United Fund of Philadelphia, now known as the United Way. The will was written by a cousin Samuel Goodis, Esquire. Samuel Goodis, Esquire, and Samuel's brother, William Goodis, Esquire, were named as executors. Girard Trust Bank was named as trustees.

According to letters in the legal file of the Goodis Estate, Herb had been a patient at Norristown State Hospital since November 12, 1963. On February 27, 1968, Herb was adjudicated incompetent by the Philadelphia Orphans Court at No. 197 of 1968. Herb died in 1971. Samuel Goodis died on January 9, 1969. William Goodis died on December 15, 1976. After the death of Samuel and William, the Orphans Court removed Girard trust Bank as trustee, appointing Provident National Bank in its place.
Dutch Silver with cue stick at grave of David Goodis.

On January 29, 2006, Dutch and I visited the grave of David Goodis at Roosevelt Memorial Park, in Bucks County just over the Philadelphia border. The grave is located at Section B-3, Lot 324, Grave 3. A groundskeeper, named "Big Fred," and another groundskeeper who did not want us to use her name, helped us find the grave.

His grave is in the bronze memorial gardens. Instead of tombstones, there are bronze plaques in the ground. David is buried between his parents and his brother. His grave states "Beloved son and brother, David L. Goodis, 1917-1967." The marker shows in Hebrew/Yiddish letters, "David Leiv ben (son of ) Baruch Velvel." To the left is his brother's marker which says "Beloved son and brother, Herbert Goodis, 1923-1971." The marker shows in Hebrew/Yiddish letters, "Chayim ben (son of) Baruch Velvel."
Grave of Herbert Goodis.

To the left of David's grave is a joint plaque for his parents. It says "Goodis." The left side of the plaque says "William 1882-1963." In Hebrew/Yiddish letters it says "Baruch Velvel ben (son of) David Leiv." David was named after his paternal grandfather. The right side of the plaque says "Mollie 1895-1966." In Hebrew/Yiddish letters it says "Zelda Malka bat (daughter of) Moshe." David had another brother, Jerome. Jerome was born after David but before Herb. Jerome died at age three of encephalitis. Jerome is not buried in the family plot.
Grave of David's parents, William and Mollie Goodis.

A stone bench inscribed with the name "Goodis" is behind the graves.