Obituary: Eva Goodman

Eva Goodman (1927-2013)

One of the most long-standing members of the Socialist Party has died at the age of 85. Eva Goodman became a member in 1947 at a time of intense activity for the Party, especially in the London area, when indoor rallies and outdoor platforms were common and attracted large numbers of people. Eva threw herself wholeheartedly into this activity, cycling to and between venues. She grew to be a commanding presence at conferences and meetings over the years, knowing exactly what she wanted to say and saying it without standing on ceremony, with clarity and humour and, above all, in a way that compelled the attention of her listeners.

Her family had been refugees from Hitler’s Germany and were lucky to find asylum in London just before the Second World War broke out. After the war, in 1946 and before joining the Party, Eva found employment at Marks and Spencer’s Head Office and worked there for 40 years until retirement as a packaging technologist. She was well aware of the fact that being a socialist and wanting a completely different kind of world, one of co-operation and economic equality, didn’t mean that you could, or should, exclude yourself from the world as it existed. You had to get by in capitalism, often with people who didn’t necessarily share your view of the world or your social and political aspirations. So, apart from gaining the respect and admiration of those she worked with, Eva cultivated many interests outside the Party such as opera, theatre, cycling (she was a member of the Cyclists’ Touring Club and cycling was one of her passions for much of her life) and, latterly, football. She was an enthusiastic member of Fulham Supporters’ Club, for many years being a season-ticket holder and rarely missing a match till ill-health kept her away.

Over the years Eva took on a number of important jobs in the Party. She was elected to the Executive Committee on many occasions, she was Secretary of her branch, Overseas Contacts Secretary, and Secretary to the committee that produces the Socialist Standard – whatever her roles were, she always carried them out with the utmost diligence and efficiency. One of her concerns was that, when the Party put its case in print – and in particular in the Socialist Standard – it should do so in the most effective and convincing way possible. To this end she conducted a persistent and persuasive campaign against what she called the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ – the formula words that all too often ended articles in the Standard. Her argument was that the Socialist solution should emerge clearly and naturally from the arguments in the article and not have to be tacked on at the end like some kind of ‘hosannah’. 

After she retired from employment, Eva carried on enthusiastically with Party activity but also became a volunteer teacher at Brackenbury Primary School in Hammersmith, assisting pupils with learning disabilities for a number of years and stopping only when the stairs became too much for her.

A large number of people gathered to say their final farewell to Eva at her funeral on 14th June, including her nephew who had travelled from Spain and spoke movingly about ‘a favourite who brought so much joy into my life’. She will be greatly missed by all her family members, including her partner, Melvin, and by so many others both inside and outside the Socialist Party.

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