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Green native, weather legend Dick Goddard dies at age 89

Steve King
Suburbanite correspondent
Dick Goddard talks about his book and long broadcast career at the WJW studios on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Possibly one of the greatest traits of a famous person is remembering his or her roots, refusing to dismiss the places where their stories started.

And so it was with Dick Goddard.

The very longtime Cleveland TV weatherman (for 51 years, the longest such tenure for a TV weatherman in one market in the United States) never, ever forgot that he grew up in what was then Green Township and graduated from Greensburg (now Green) High School in 1949. All you had to do was ask him about home, or about the fact that for decades after he left to pursue his career, his mother still lived in the family home on Massillon Road.

Goddard came back to Green and other local areas numerous times over the years to help out various clubs and organizations in a variety of ways. His mere presence at events was guaranteed to draw a crowd, and each time, he was his usual friendly, affable self, as nice and down-to-earth of a person as you would ever want to meet. He refused to let his fame go to his head. The way he saw it, he was just a regular guy on TV telling viewers if it was going to be rainy or sunny.

Goddard, who had been in declining health for some time, died Tuesday morning. He was 89.

A strong advocate for pets who was not shy about bringing dogs and cats from local animal shelters onto the set on a weekly basis during his part of the newscast so they could be showcased for adoption, Goddard started the Woollybear Festival in 1973 in Vermilion and served as its director for nearly a half-century. The annual event has been renamed the Dick Goddard Woollybear Festival – initially against his wishes. He didn’t want the publicity for himself, but rather only to help an event or cause, so in that regard, he was more than happy to lend the use of his name.

Goddard was a huge sports fan. He kicked for the Greensburg High football team and said his dream was to be the punter for the Cleveland Browns. That never happened, but he still made his mark with the team anyway, serving as the statistician for the Browns radio team at home games for 44 years (1968-95, 1999-2011) shortly after he returned to Cleveland following a stint of several months in Philadelphia. He had started at Cleveland’s KYW (now WKYC) in 1961 after graduating from Kent State University a year earlier, and went to WJW when he came back and remained there until he retired in November 2016.

Goddard served in the Air Force in the early 1950s and was extremely fond of marching bands. Longtime Browns play-by-play announcer Jim Donovan tells the story about Goddard “standing like a statue and saluting, as proud and patriotic as he could be,” when the national anthem was played before Browns home games. And at halftime, when he and longtime color analyst Doug Dieken would leave the booth to stretch their legs, Donovan said that Goddard would remain to hear the marching band when there was one playing.

But maybe the truest test of his personality was – and the best part of his legacy is -- that no one ever said a bad word about Dick Goddard. Everybody loved him and considered him a friend, a welcome visitor into their homes, even those who met him – and knew him – only by watching him on TV.

Dick Goddard in the main broadcast studio at the WJW studios in Cleveland May 24, 2011.