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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Campus community mourns professor’s death

NMU students and faculty are mourning the unexpected death of a respected professor and community member.

Funeral services for Dr. Susan Goodrich, who was an associate professor of modern languages and literatures, will be held today, Thursday, Jan. 15.

Goodrich died at Marquette General Hospital on Sunday, Jan. 11 due to complications from childbirth after giving birth to a healthy boy, Charles Moses Martin Goodrich.

Goodrich, who was 46, had been a professor at NMU since 1998 and was the wife of NMU history professor Robbie Goodrich. She is remembered as a passionate, independent woman, with a zeal for life and an unending love for her family.

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“She was enthusiastic and full of life. She was passionate about things that she did,” said Tim Compton, head of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. “She was a bulldog, and if she believed in something, she would go after it and not let up until she had accomplished what she had set out to do.”

History professor Alan Willis and his wife, English professor Sandra Burr, have been good friends with the Goodriches since 2001, when Willis, Burr and Robbie Goodrich arrived at NMU, where Susan Goodrich (then Susan Martin) already worked. Since that year, the four remained close and have tried to go out to dinner once a week.

Willis said that Goodrich went out of her way to help those around her, including students, and he recalls a time when he entered the Goodrich home to find her cooking Costa Rican food for a group of NMU students.

“Who does that? Who has a class full of students over cooking in their house? There are not many professors that would do that,” Willis said. “Whatever she did, it got the full Susan bundle of energy, and that was a big bundle of energy.”

Goodrich, who taught both Spanish and Portugese at NMU, was a long-time proponent of internationalization, a process that has recently been heavily promoted by Northern President Les Wong.

“Before Dr. Wong, before internationalization was the rage, there were a number of people already working on it, and she was one of the pioneers,” Compton said. “She was one of the first on campus to take groups abroad, as a professor, to Spain and Peru.”

Beyond campus, Goodrich was a familiar face as well, according to Willis. In the days since her death, this has become even clearer.

“There are people coming in that have no connection to Northern at all, and are very much a part of this,” Willis said. “They’re not just there because she’s dead and there’s a tragedy and people need help. They’re there because of the way Susan impacted them while she was alive.”

Clair MacGregor, a Northern alum, is just one person who was positively influenced by Goodrich. Goodrich was both professor and adviser to MacGregor, who still lives in the Marquette area.

“She was just a really dynamic personality,” MacGregor said. “I just feel like the town, the university, everything-there is just something missing now. She was just profoundly interconnected with everything that goes on in this community.”

MacGregor also remembers Goodrich’s way of directing her students firmly, but gracefully.

“You could never be frustrated with her,” she said. “She was just a guiding force for her students and a wonderful personality.”

That shining personality is also what Associate English professor Kia Richmond recalls. Richmond, along with the Goodriches, often attended NMU’s All-Faculty Interdisciplinary Colloquium, a social group that meets regularly each semester. Richmond had known Goodrich since the former arrived in Marquette eight years ago.

“I said that (on Monday) the sun didn’t come out and it was just this dark place,” Richmond said. “Not only on a professional level, but on a personal level, she was a lot of color in a very gray place.

“It’s a great loss. She was such a strong woman and such a strong professor. There’s a big hole where she was.”

Goodrich earned her doctorate from the University of California-Berkeley, her master’s degree from Middlebury College and her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.

She is survived by her husband, Robbie, her four children and numerous friends and family members.

“I really can’t imagine what the department will be like without her,” MacGregor said. “It feels like a major force is just gone. There is just a huge missing piece now in a lot of aspects of my life.”

“It just broke my heart and I started crying. I cry every day. It’s so frustrating. I just can’t believe that she’s gone.”

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