Al Goldbaum was teacher, community leader

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Al Goldbaum died peacefully after a brief illness and nearly 103 years of an extraordinary and meaningful life. He will be most remembered for his welcoming smile and sparkling blue eyes that brought joy to everyone he met and for his dedication to making the world a better place for all. 

Mr. Goldbuam was born at home on the Lower East Side on Nov. 29, 1912 and lived most of his life in the Amalgamated Housing Cooperative with his beloved wife Etta. 

He was a dedicated teacher of physics and chemistry at the renowned High School of Music and Art (now called Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts). He was an ardent member of the progressive New York City Teacher’s Union in New York City.

Mr. Goldbuam was the co-founder and first chairman of the first inter-racial labor canteen in Washington, D.C., which was sponsored by the Federal Workers of America, Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). It opened to great fanfare on Feb. 13, 1944, hosting Eleanor Roosevelt and Pete Seeger at its inaugural event which was memorialized in the iconic photo. 

Mr. Goldbaum and his wife founded “The First Friday Forum,” which created a monthly space for lively discourse, radical thought and fundraising. For the last five years of his life, Mr. Goldbuam lived at The Redwoods, a Community of Seniors, in Mill Valley, California, where he participated enthusiastically at weekly roadside peace vigils and sing-alongs sponsored by Mill Valley Seniors for Peace. He was also a member of the Redwood’s “Rock the Ages Senior Chorus,” where his favorite song and credo was “Imagine,” by John Lennon. He also loved participating in The Redwoods Drummers. 

Mr. Gordon was a tireless traveller and he explored much of the world documenting his trips with photographs that have been avidly collected by many, including St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Conn. As an amateur botanist, he became a docent at the New York Botanical Garden, where he spent many enjoyable hours. 

He was pre-deceased by his wife Etta Stock Goldbaum and leaves an adoring family including daughters Ruthie of West Hartford Connecticut and Laura of San Francisco; Ruthie’s sons Noah Epstein, Daniel Stock and David Shortell; Laura’s son Amos Goldbaum; devoted nephew Neal Friedman and his family; and countless friends and former students. 

A memorial gathering was held at the New York Botanical Garden on Sept. 13. Future memorials will be held in West Hartford, Connecticut, and Mill Valley, California, at dates to be determined. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to your favorite charity.

Al Goldbaum

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