(Submitted by Paula Debnar, Professor of Classics, Department of Classics and Italian, Mount Holyoke College)
M. Philippa (Forder) Goold, longtime professor of classics and department head at Mount Holyoke, died on March 29, 2017, after a short illness. She was 84.
Philippa was born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) in 1932. After taking degrees at both the University of Cape Town and Cambridge University—where her housemates at Newnham’s Whitstead Cottage included Sylvia Path—she returned to Salisbury in 1956 to begin teaching at the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now the University of Zimbabwe). In 1967 she came to the U.S. to join the faculty at Mount Holyoke, but left in 1973 when her husband, George P. Goold, was named Professor of Latin at University College London. When George accepted a professorship at Yale in 1977, Philippa returned to Mount Holyoke, where she continued to teach, eventually holding the chair of Professor of Classics on the Alumnae Foundation, and lead the department until her retirement in 1996.
During her time at Mount Holyoke, she inspired a number of students to enter the profession. Bonnie Catto, Professor of Classics at Assumption College, who was both a student and colleague of hers at Mount Holyoke, attributes to Philippa her great love of Lucretius and speaks appreciatively of the gentle encouragement she offered when, as an undergraduate, Bonnie was writing her senior thesis. Another Mount Holyoke graduate, Mary McHugh, Professor of Classics and Associate Provost and Dean of General Education and Assessment at Gustavus Adolphus College, where she succeeded the late Marleen (Boudreau) Flory (also a Mount Holyoke alumna), recalls Philippa’s inspirational Greek classes and how she marveled at Philippa’s encyclopedic knowledge of the ancient world. In Mary’s words, “She demanded nothing less than excellence, and I was a better person for it. And while she taught me tenacity and attention to details, she also possessed a great sense of humor, great warmth and loyalty, and true sincerity.” Based on my own experience as Philippa’s colleague and friend, I could not describe her any better.
A superb editor and nonpareil proofreader, Philippa gave generously of her time and expertise when called upon by colleagues both near and far. And many a volume in the Loeb Classical Library benefited greatly from her behind-the-scenes work; beginning in 1974, when George became the general editor of the series, she functioned as a de-facto assistant editor, a role that continued for some years after the general editorship passed to Jeffrey Henderson in 1999.
No account of Philippa’s life would be complete without mention of her deep love for George over the course of more than 25 years of marriage, as well as for her two stepchildren and her own extended family of siblings, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren. After George’s death in 2001, Philippa remained at their home in South Hadley, with occasional breaks for travel including an around-the-world trip with her beloved sister Sarah McNally and her husband Nick in 2004.
Philippa Goold is greatly missed by us all.