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George E. Goldman
In Memoriam

George E. Goldman

Cooperative Extension Specialist in Agricultural and Resource Economics, Emeritus

UC Berkeley
George Edward Goldman died on June 11, 2018, at his home in Berkeley, California, following a four-year struggle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 22, 1935, George earned his bachelor's degree at New York University and his master's degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed additional graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, before embarking on a 40-year career in the statewide UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Berkeley’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. He retired as a cooperative extension specialist in 2002 and subsequently served as the treasurer of the UC Berkeley Emeriti Association from 2008 to 2014.

The scope of George's work was vast. Colleagues and extension clientele highly respected his ability to conduct unbiased, evidence-based, statistically-sound analyses. They sought his guidance from all parts of California and across the nation for rational, practical advice on controversial issues. Typically, in response he developed and applied innovative economic models that informed myriad public policy decisions, especially regarding state resource allocation. George published cost-benefit studies on such broadly ranging subjects as California’s Central Valley wetlands, urban forestry, agritourism, whitefly proliferation, nutrition education, drip irrigation, regional economic development, California prison industries, greenhouse gas policy, recycling programs, and tax cuts.

George was determined not to let his own self-interest interfere with his analytical methods. For example, in his coauthored publication focusing on the Westlands Water District, he showed that the benefits of government water subsidies were realized by large-scale corporate farmers much more than by the small family operators for whom they were intended. Major players in Central Valley agriculture did not receive this finding well, but it won George the pride of a mention in a Wallace Stegner book. Although he stood to benefit personally from passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, George publicly fought the passage of this property tax control initiative in a televised debate with its author. As one of his colleagues observed at the time, George showed that he was the hero of thoughtful people and the sworn enemy of the economic huckster.

George delighted in discussing all manner of current topics with colleagues during periodic meetings of the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, the Western Extension Committees on Public Policy and Community Development, and other professional associations. But his lively intellect, curiosity, and breadth were by no means confined to the academic sphere.

While holding fiercely to liberal views, George eagerly engaged with people of all political persuasions. He was remarkably loyal to old friends and always making new ones. Early in his life, George was an avid runner. He took great pleasure in daily lunchtime jaunts along Strawberry Canyon trails and running marathons as well as the Dipsea and Double-Dipsea races in Marin. Later he increasingly enjoyed folk dancing, lawn bowling, playing softball and chess, collecting books, fiddling, and making obscure jokes. Inspired to pay nuanced homage to an economic model in one of his publications, George created a bumper sticker that read "Free the Type 2 Multiplier." The failure of his entire family and many of his colleagues to comprehend this reference did not even slightly diminish his glee about it.

George was very devoted to and proud of his family. He spirited his wife and children away on multiple backpacking, camping, and cabin-by-the-lake trips. He tolerated a household full of cats, chickens, guinea pigs, parakeets, homing pigeons, rabbits, convalescing wild animals, and sometimes even sheep. He instilled principles of economics and statistics in his children from a young age. As the children grew up, he deftly supported them in their lives and careers. He strongly encouraged them to develop and justify their own beliefs, perhaps inadvertently sabotaging his lifelong project of persuading them to acknowledge the superiority of classical music, notwithstanding his soft spots for Irish, klezmer, and folk music.

George was preceded in death by his son, Martin Goldman, and his sister, Florence Schwartz. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Ann Yarwood Goldman; his daughters, Sara Goldman, Polly Goldman, and Susannah Goldman; sons Steven Goldman and Gideon Goldman; children-in-law James Leap, Kelly Goldman, and Lauren Aczon; grandchildren Ben Goldman, Myla Goldman, Rico Martinez, and Otis Goldman; and many nieces, nephews, step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Jeffrey M. Perloff
Howard Rosenberg
Polly Goldman
Amy Block Joy