In memoriam: George Goldman
After earning a bachelor's degree from New York University and a master's degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Goldman worked for 39 years as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE) at UC Berkeley, until he retired in 2002.
During his career, George researched agricultural and natural resource topics across the state and nation and published on topics as broad-ranging as the California prison industries, the wetlands of California's Central Valley, the forestry industry and nutrition education.
Goldman took pride in his ability to conduct unbiased, fact-based analyses, and his strong background in statistics helped him develop economic models that were widely respected.
“Government around the state relied heavily on his analyses of the effects of government policies and other shocks on their communities,” said Jeff Perloff, UC Berkeley professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. “When he retired, the loss of his modeling abilities to the state was seen as a major problem.”
Within ANR, Goldman may be known most widely for his contributions to “The Measure of California Agriculture: Its Impact on the State Economy,” which he co-wrote in 1992 with Harold Carter, former director of the Agricultural Issues Center.
Upon his retirement in 2002, Goldman told ANR Report that his goal had been to improve the quality of public discussions, “to educate the public about the value of a quantitative and analytical approach to public policy choices….My role has been to provide research results based on knowledge, information and a systematic framework of analysis,” Goldman said.
“George heard that the Legislature wanted an analysis of its recycling program. We did it and they followed our recommendations and raised the CRV on cans and bottles to four cents and then a nickel,” said Peter Berck, the S.J. Hall professor of forest economics and professor of agricultural and resource economics at UC Berkeley.
“His early publication on the Westlands Water District, documenting the degree to which government water subsidies were benefiting large-scale corporate farmers and not the intended small family farmers, alarmed Big Ag interests in the Central Valley for years afterwards, and earned him a mention in a Wallace Stegner book, of which he was very proud,” wrote his daughter Polly Goldman.
Sofia Berto Villas-Boas, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley and member of the UC Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, recalled, “His interests were vast and he loved extending his knowledge and sharing his findings. When I joined [ARE] he would often come to my third-floor office with coffee, ask how I was adapting to Giannini and ARE, back in 2002.”
Goldman 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 and grandchildren Ben Goldman, Myla Goldman, Rico Martinez. and Otis Goldman and many great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by son Martin.
A celebration of Goldman's life will be held on July 7 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Northbrae Community Church in Berkeley.
See Goldman's full obituary at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?n=george-goldman&pid=189345558.
To read more reflections about Goldman from his colleagues and friends, visit https://are.berkeley.edu/news/2018/06/are-cooperative-extension-specialist-emeritus-george-goldman-1935-2018.