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In Memoriam: James A. Goodwin

Posted on: April 18th, 2011 by Intern

James A. Goodwin, one of the American Alpine Club’s oldest members at 101 years-of-age, passed away peacefully on April 7 at the Adirondack Medical Center from complications of pneumonia.  Jim was a member of the American Alpine Club, the Adirondack 46-Rs, the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the NYS Outdoor Guides Association.

There will be a memorial service on Saturday, April 23 at 3 p.m. at the Keene Valley Congregational Church, with a reception to follow.

Goodwin had a passion for the outdoors, especially the Adirondacks. As a child, he spent his summers by Lake Placid and Keene Valley; by the age of 12, he was already guiding parties up Mt. Marcy. From the peak of Mt. Marcy, his passion for climbing only grew. During his twenties, Jim made several trips to the Canadian Rockies and was admitted to the American Alpine Club. Then, in 1935, he made the first winter ascent of Mt. Colden’s Trap Dike. In 1940, Jim became Adirondack 46-R #24, and for years after, guided many an aspiring 46-R around the Adirondacks’ peaks. Jim also helped cut and maintain trails in Keene Valley. His long association with the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society, both as director and trail maintainer, led to a new trail being named in his honor after retiring. He was an honorary member of the Adirondack Mountain Club, and served as a field representative in the extended negotiations that led to the 1978 land sale.

After spending countless summers in Keene Valley, Jim made his permanent home there in 2002, living in the cabin he built in 1940.

Goodwin was born on March 8, 1910 in Hartford, CT. He graduated from Kingswood School in 1928 and from Williams College in 1932. He received an M.A. in English from Harvard in 1934, and taught at Kingswood (later Kingswood-Oxford) School until his retirement in 1975.

In 1941, Jim enlisted with the 10th Mountain Division and served as a rock climbing instructor in Colorado and West Virginia. He also served as a medic during his division’s combat in Italy.  After being discharged in 1945, Jim returned to teaching at Kingswood School, where he helped start a ski team and an outing club.

Jim is survived by sons James, Jr. (Tony) and wife Emily Apthorp Goodwin of Keene, and Peter and wife Susan Rohm Goodwin of Wolfeboro, NH. Additional survivors are nephews James and Christopher O’Brien of Clifton Park and Troy, as well as grandchildren Morgan, Robert, and Liza Goodwin of Keene, and Hunt and John Goodwin of Wolfeboro, NH.  He was predeceased by Jane, his wife of 50 years, as well as his sisters, Margaret (Peg) O’Brien and Charlotte Craig.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Kingswood-Oxford School, 170 Kingswood Road, West Hartford, CT  06119, or Keene Valley Neighborhood House, P.O. Box 46, Keene Valley, NY  12943.

Sources:, Adirondack Backcountry Skiing

—Hale Melnick

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