In Memoriam: Captain Lawrence J. “Jack” Goddard ’50 CMC Loses its Oldest Living Alumnus

Captain Lawrence J. “Jack” Goddard ’50, of San Diego, died April 26. Goddard was Claremont McKenna College’s oldest living alumnus and a recipient of the Eugene L. Wolver Jr. ’51 Lifetime Service Award and the Jack Stark ’57 Distinguished Service Award.

As a U.S. Navy ensign, Goddard was on board the battleship USS Maryland, parked off Ford Island, during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Bossing an anti-aircraft battery of four 1.1-inch guns five decks above the main deck, Goddard was joined by two cooks, a postal clerk, and a laundryman whom he trained to operate the weapons while his own gun crewmen secured ammunition from a locked armory below deck.

Goddard then commanded a convoy of 11 ships from Pearl Harbor to Majuro, in the Marshall Islands. He captained his own vessel in the Pacific, the USS LST (Landing Ship Tank) 225, the flagship of Group 38, during the invasions of Saipan and Tinian. The ship delivered 500 marines and 18 tanks to island beachheads during the Battle of Saipan, and continued to maneuver and receive the wounded for five consecutive days and nights while under fire. As executive officer of the USS Mercury, a cargo ship commissioned by the Navy for service delivering goods and equipment to ships and stations in the war zone, Goddard was responsible for the successful organization and administration of the first transferring of complete supplies to Task Force 58, the main striking force in the Pacific theatre.

At the conclusion of the war, Goddard enrolled at CMC on the GI Bill, entering with the first four-year class of undergraduates. He chaired the College’s first carnival, and was vice president and social chairman of the student body.

When the Korean War broke out just days after graduation, he again served his country in uniform.

Goddard’s professional career included positions with the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company and the Sun Life Insurance Company of America.

Inspired by Norman Vincent Peale’s exhortation, “to bring meaning and greatness into your life, find a need and fill it,” Goddard initiated Fourth Friday, a monthly luncheon for San Diego-based CMC alumni, after meeting several graduates of the College who found themselves unemployed or “underemployed” during the real estate recession of the early 1990s. The gatherings enabled alumni to meet and network, and incorporated career-planning roundtables for CMC students at home in San Diego over winter break.

Michael Mark ’86, who lost his job in a 1994 downsizing, was one of the first beneficiaries of the Fourth Friday program. Now a real estate analyst with MKA Capital Group Advisors, Inc., he calls Goddard an inspiration. “Jack wants alumni not only to be employed, but to have jobs that suit them well,” he said, during a 2005 interview for CMCmagazine. “These events enable me to reconnect and to meet new people. I always leave with a sense of being loved and supported.”

In recognition of this extraordinary effort, Goddard received the Claremont McKenna College Alumni Association’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 1998.

Goddard also was a leader in organizing CMC’s alumni chapter and new student activities in the San Diego area. He hosted numerous parties in his family’s spacious backyard, got to know most of the San Diego-native students enrolling at the College, and used his connections to organize many functions at Navy facilities, including at the Officer’s Club and aboard various ships and submarines.

“He was truly one if not the real essence of the Pacesetters,” writes fellow Pacesetter Reed Mohney ’48. “No one was more dedicated to CMC.”

Goddard is survived by his wife, Millie; sons Larry, John, Bill, Dan, and Tom; and seven grandchildren.

Katherine Juhl Griffiths