Marco Goodman, doctor and philanthropist, 89

Growing up in Oakland, the Goodman kids were accustomed to having evenings interrupted by phone calls, usually from their father’s many patients. Marco Goodman was one of a vanishing breed of family doctor, the kind who made house calls.

Marco Goodman died March 8 in San Ramon at the age of 89. He leaves behind a legacy of family, faith, health and healing.

“He frequently fell behind schedule because he allowed his patients to pour out their hearts to him,” remembers son Richard Goodman of Oakland. “Family and friends as well as patients came to him for advice, which was invariably calm, pragmatic and nonjudgmental.”

Goodman was born in Alexandria, Egypt, on April 15, 1915. He was one of six children of Sephardic Jews who fled Palestine during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. His first language was Ladino.

The family immigrated to the United States in 1920, settling in Philadelphia where Goodman grew up. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann Medical College, he served in the Coast Guard and was stationed in the Pacific.

In 1943, he married Ruth Mazer, a University of Pennsylvania graduate and schoolteacher. “They always joked that it was a mixed marriage,” says Richard Goodman. “He was Sephardic and she was Ashkenazi.”

After World War II, the couple relocated to the East Bay, where they raised their children Richard, Robert and Reina.

For 37 years, first in Oakland and later in San Leandro, Goodman was the quintessential family doctor, delivering babies, making house calls and taking those endless evening phone calls, his son said.

Partly as the result of psychiatric training which he received at San Francisco’s Langley Porter Clinic, he believed in the importance of listening to patients.

While career was important to Goodman, so was his devotion to Judaism and Jewish causes. He made significant donations over the years to such institutions as the Hebrew University, the Jewish National Fund and the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living. He and his family visited Israel numerous times.

Above all, Goodman was a family man. He loved those family card games, especially bridge and poker. But nothing topped the quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) hours with his four grandchildren.

Goodman retired in 1982, spending much of his time over the ensuing years managing his real estate investments, reading and traveling. Ruth Goodman died in 1992 after 49 years of marriage.

In his final years, Goodman was plagued with health problems, but, “being an optimist by nature, he bounced back,” said Richard Goodman. His father had several more good years until Alzheimer’s disease descended upon him.

His father “set a very high standard for us to emulate.”

Marco Goodman is survived by his children, Reina Smith of Portland, Ore.; Richard Goodman; and Robert Goodman of Orinda; and grandchildren Michael Smith, and Dania, Avi and Rebekah Goodman. He also is survived by his sister, Selma Hopen of Hollywood, Fla., and his brother Sam Goodman of Philadelphia

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.