Grethe Goodwin

Grethe Julie (Andresen) Goodwin died on June 28, 2018 at Hunt Community in Nashua, New Hampshire. She was born July 8, 1926 in the family homestead in Krossnes, up the Glomma River from Fredrikstad, Norway. Her father Andreas was a sea captain; her mother Helga ran the household and raised their four children. With the Nazi occupation in 1939, Andreas was exiled, based in London but often running supplies from New York to the north coast of Russia. In 1945 Grethe had the joy of graduating with her school’s Peace Class. She was one of 24 Norwegians who crossed the Atlantic, leaving family, home and country to study at Tufts Dental School in Boston, from which she received her DMD in 1949. In 1947 Grethe had the opportunity to take a former troop transport ship home to Norway for the summer. On boarding the Marine Jumper for the return journey, she met Frank Goodwin, a rising Harvard junior returning from summer school at the newly reopening University of Oslo. After graduating she returned to Norway for a year of national dental service, and on July 1, 1950, she and Frank were married in the Gressvik church near Fredrikstad.

Making their home in Frank’s native Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Grethe began her dental practice, but encountered resistance from the dental society to the idea of a woman maintaining her own practice. By the birth of her first son Frank Erik at the beginning of 1954, she ceased practicing dentistry for good. She became an American citizen. Her second son Rolf was born in 1956. While very active in Bethlehem circles, Grethe craved the academic life, and enrolled at Moravian College to major in German language and literature. She received her BA from Moravian in 1968 and was for many years a high school German teacher at schools in Bethlehem and nearby districts. She took a master’s in German from Lehigh University in 1973 and gained a reputation as a translator and historian of the Moravian settlers in Pennsylvania and Maine. Most notably she debunked the accepted history that the Moravians stayed clear from slavery, discovering and publishing the records of slave auctions in colonial Bethlehem.

Grethe and Frank hosted many Rotary Exchange high school students in their home from all over the world , and for many years the couple co-chaired the Rotary District exchange program, with twenty-plus students going out and coming in each year. They also hosted several of Grethe’s nieces and nephews from Norway. Grethe was a member of the formidable group of women who struggled successfully to save Bethlehem’s historic Sun Inn. She was active in the Episcopal Cathedral Church of the Nativity as well as numerous charitable organizations. She was always noted as someone who would pull together a meal for a charitable event (everything homemade, of course, and preferably not expensive) and an indomitable baker.

In 1986 Grethe achieved a dream when she and Frank “retired” to the Muscongus Bay area of Maine, where they had long summered. Grethe was one of the principal forces behind saving Port Clyde’s Marshall Point Lighthouse from commercial development, obtaining the deed for the Point from the Coast Guard, now held by the Town of St. George. She and Frank helped lead the effort to raise the money to rebuild the old keeper’s house as a local history museum. With Frank and many dear friends they hammered and scrubbed and painted, never wishing to waste donor money on paid contractors. They were active in the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Thomaston and in the founding of the Georges River Land Trust, among many other activities.

Grethe was predeceased by her husband Frank in 2007, by her granddaughter Marianna in 2006, and by her twin brother Rolf Jul Andresen on June 13, 2018. She is survived by her sisters Gerd Christensen and Aase Myhre of Norway, her cousins in Norway, her sons, Frank Erik and his wife Rosalind of Chapel Hill, North Carolina and their son Adrian, and Rolf and his wife Nancy of Nashua, New Hampshire and their sons Henry and George, her 8 nieces and nephews and their families in Norway, and Frank’s nieces and nephews and their families in the United States. A celebration of Grethe’s life will be held on Monday, July 9 at 2 pm at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 214 Main Street, Nashua, New Hampshire. In lieu of flowers memorial gifts are requested for the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum, PO Box 247, Port Clyde, ME 04855, Georges River Land Trust, 8 North Main Street, Rockland, ME 04841, and the Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist, 200 Main Street, Thomaston ME 04861.