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A Hero’s Passing: Richard Goldman

November 29, 2010

Richard N. Goldman ’41 has died at his home in San Francisco. He was 90 years old.

Mr. Goldman was named CAA’s 2010 Alumnus of the Year. Profiling him for our magazine last spring (see, “The Heroes’ Hero“), writer Sabin Russell described the retired insurance executive and renowned philanthropist as having “an upright ‘Daddy Warbucks’ air about him—an elegant dresser with a broad smile, a bald pate, and a kind heart. Add to that a pair of lively blue Paul Newman eyes.”

Together with his wife and fellow Cal alum, Rhoda, who passed away in 1996, Goldman oversaw a charitable foundation that, since its inception in the 1950s, has given away hundreds of millions of dollars, including many sizable gifts to UC Berkeley. The Goldman School of Public Policy is named for the couple. But Richard Goldman will probably be best remembered for the Goldman Environmental Prizes, sometimes called the “Green Nobels,” which are annually awarded to grassroots environmental activists from around the world. The award, which now carries a $150,000 cash prize, has gone to recipients in more than 75 countries.

Mr. Goldman is survived by sons, John and Doug and a daughter, Susan Gelman. His oldest child, Richard, died of a brain tumor at age 42 — an event that Goldman once said haunted him every day and would “continue to do so through the remainder of my life.”

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau issued the following statement on the passing of his dear and trusted friend. Read more

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