Mom, wife, teacher, magazine publisher, sister, friend.
While Natalie Goodman was all these things and more, the people who knew her best call her the glue that quietly held so many together. On March 29, her strength sapped by a second battle with breast cancer, the woman who held so much together let go, with her husband, Bob, by her side.
She was 70.
“It’s a void that a lot of people will feel,” says long-time friend Carolyn Jacobs who launched Chicago Parent in 1984 with Goodman. “She was the person I would want to call in the worst of times and the best of times.”
Goodman and Jacobs, introduced by mutual friends and involved in an investment club, were at very different points in their lives. Goodman, a teacher, had raised her boys, Rod and Ted, and found herself an empty nester while Jacobs was pregnant with her first. Yet both dreamed of owning and controlling something they built themselves.
Talk of launching a parenting publication began in 1981; Goodman was contemplative to Jacobs’ impulsiveness. The first issue hit the streets in 1984.
Those first years were a labor of love with long hours for the two women, plus Bob working on Chicago Parent design and ads after his day job. Natalie’s mom helped with mailings and Bob’s mom brought in cookies every week for the staff.
“Everything that worked out for us could have been a recipe for disaster, but it wasn’t,” Jacobs says.
Chick Magoon Hayman, who worked with Goodman and Jacobs, remembers those days clearly. Neither one of the women knew anything about publishing, but their passion made up for it, she says.
Even now, so many years after the women sold Chicago Parent to Wednesday Journal Inc., their dedication inspires Hayman’s admiration.
“Natalie was to me a trifle imposing,” Hayman says, remembering the early days. “She had this way of looking at you, really studying you, without saying something first.”
Hayman came to understand Goodman as a cautious person who weighed all the angles and implications. “She was always trying to do the right thing for everybody.”
For Jacobs, Goodman became not only a partner, but a mother, sister and best friend.
“I found her ability to listen and hear beyond the words almost uncanny,” Jacobs says. “When you talked with her you knew you had her undivided attention.”
The pair sold Chicago Parent to Wednesday Journal Inc. in 1990.
“Natalie Goodman, along with her partner Carolyn Jacobs, created something wonderful and powerful when they launched Chicago Parent,” Wednesday Journal Inc. Publisher Dan Haley says. “It was a genuine Chicago take on the universal themes of being a parent. And what they built, month after month, really connected with Chicago moms.
“Natalie was funny and blunt and smart. She had a passion for this magazine and over the months our company negotiated to buy it, it was clear she was determined it end up in the hands that were equally committed to it.”
Goodman took some time off after Chicago Parent, then started Vital Times, a senior magazine. Most recently, she returned to her first love, teaching keyboarding to children with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Goodman celebrated her birthday in Mexico just a few weeks before she died.
Bob Goodman says his wife embraced life and lived for the moment. He was lucky, he says. From a blind date 48 years ago grew a love that surpassed all else.
His voice catches thinking about life without her. For now, he’s left sitting in his home office with a lifetime of memories and a wall covered with photos of the woman who made everything possible.