James Courtland Goodwin
Tuskegee Airman

By Leah Goodwin
Tuesday August 13, 2013 - 10:58:00 AM
James Courtland Goodwin <br> Tuskegee Airman <br> 1925-2013
James Courtland Goodwin
Tuskegee Airman

James (Jim) Courtland Goodwin, of Santa Rosa, passed away on April 14, 2013 due to cardiac arrest. He was 87 years old. He was laid to rest with full military honors, next to his wife Eva, in the Gustine National Cemetery on April 22, 2014. A Celebration of Life will be held for him in the community room at Friends House 684 Benicia Drive, Santa Rosa on September 21, 2013 at 2pm. 

Jim was born on November 2, 1925 in Fullerton, California, the oldest son of Lee and Ruby Goodwin’s five children. At the height of World War II in 1944, Goodwin joined the Tuskegee Airmen, 332nd Fighter Group, a unit of the Air Force made up of dedicated young men who enlisted to become America’s first black military airmen. He was honorably discharged in May of 1946.  

Following the war, he went on to University of California Berkeley where he received his undergraduate and law degrees. At Cal he met and then married his lifelong best friend, Harriet (Helene) Goodwin, an incoming freshman and sociologist from Chicago. They had two children, David and Leah. That marriage lasted about seven years. 

Then, while clerking for the Supreme Court of California, District Court of Appeals under the late Justices Maurice T. Dooling and Raymond E Peters, he met Eva, a graduate of Oberlin College, who would become his lifelong wife and partner of over 50 years. 

He had a career that was dedicated to academia and educational policy, affirmative action, economic and community development. In1965, Jim was assistant director of the Bay Area Neighborhood Development (BAND), a nonprofit foundation. He later became their Executive Director and moved the focus of its programs from consumer education to consumer action and vigorous community and economic development. He pioneered the use of bi-lingual education materials (Spanish/English) for low income consumers; these materials were picked up and distributed nationally. In addition, he served as senior field representative for the Office of Economic Opportunity assigned to rural economic and community development in several sparsely populated areas of California.  

From 1966 to 1968, he served as a special consultant in minority staff recruitment for the Peace Corps. 

In 1968, when the University of California Berkeley passed an Executive Order to develop affirmative action and equal employment opportunity policy for minorities and women at the nine campuses of the University he was hired to lead the work as Assistant to the Vice President of the University. He was instrumental in obtaining $4,786,810 from the Federal Emergency Employment Act, the California Welfare Reform Act of 1971. As a result the University employed more welfare recipients than any other State entity. 

In 1978 he was appointed by the Governor to serve as a Commissioner on the California Public Broadcasting Commission. There he inaugurated a fellowship and chaired a joint funding committee with the California Council for the Humanities. He also funded programs by independent producers in public affairs, the arts and humanities.  

On March 29, 2007 the Tuskegee Airmen both living and deceased were recognized for their distinguished service and dedication to the military history of the United States of America and were given the Congressional Gold Medal, the Nation’s highest and most distinguished civilian award. 

In January of 2009, he traveled with his daughter, Leah, and joined hundreds of Tuskegee Airmen who were invited by President Barack Obama to attend the inauguration of our Nation’s first African American President. 

Throughout his life Jim found respite in participating in the arts. He especially enjoyed opera, classical music, and theatre. He had a true love of nature, spending time exploring the many trails of the Point Reyes National Seashore. His second home in Inverness was a place for writing, resting and deep contemplation. 

Jim spent most of his life as a resident of Berkeley, California. He and Eva retired and later moved to Friend’s House, a Quaker community in Santa Rosa. There they spent their last years painting, walking, listening to music and connecting with many new friends.