EULOGY FOR WILLIAM CASSIUS GOODLOE, III
MAY 8, 1997
HONORABLE RICHARD B. SANDERS
WASHINGTON SUPREME COURT
Ultimately the role of the judge is to provide justice to those who seek it. It is difficult to do justice to Justice Goodloe in the few minutes allotted. Justice Goodloe always did his best to do justice for others but he did much more. He was a loving husband to his wife, Ruth, over the 55 years of their marriage, he was a good father to his seven children, a wonderful man to know as a friend, and a principled public figure.
Bill was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on September 19, 1919. He married his wife, Ruth, 22 years later to the day, on his birthday, September 19, 1941. Shortly after his marriage came Pearl Harbor Day, the first Pearl Harbor Day. Bill, in the Naval Reserve, was called to active duty. He went up through the enlisted ranks to become a Naval officer. Because of his oral eloquence he was asked, or was it ordered, by Admiral Halsey, to announce the orders of the day on Admiral Halsey’s behalf. Bill was proud of his service in the Navy.
In 1943 their first son was born, William Goodloe, IV. Bill cannot be with us today. In 1945 Gwendolyn was born. Gwendolyn and I were born in the same year. Bill could have been my dad; my dad was also born in 1919. The next year Richard was born, and then came Gerald, David, Mary, and Janette. Please stand and be recognized. Most men would be satisfied with a marriage of 55 years, 7 children, and 21 grandchildren. Are the grandchildren here? Please be recognized. Although Bill would probably say this was his greatest accomplishment, I think we should also recognize some of his lesser ones—those which would be "majors" for anyone else.
Justice Goodloe graduated from the UW Law School in 1948. He was a trial lawyer for 24 years, served on the King County Superior Court for 12 years, and then for 3 and a half years on the Washington State Supreme Court after winning a contested election which he financed on a shoestring.
I remember trying a case to Judge Goodloe when he was on the King County Superior Court bench. I was a young attorney. We had known each other before then; I thought we were friends. But I lost. So much for friendship! Announcing his oral decision Judge Goodloe explained why my client’s cause did not quite make the cut. He almost convinced me he was right. He had a convincing explanation for everything he did.
On this or perhaps another occasion, Justice Goodloe talked about an ornament he had in his courtroom pertaining to one of his ancestors, Cassius Marcellus Clay. No, this was not the boxer we’ve come to know as Muhammed Ali; however, Muhammed Ali, a Kentuckian, took his name from the same individual. Cassius Marcellus Clay was a distinguished historical figure, was appointed by Lincoln to be our ambassador to Russia, and took his nephew, Bill’s grandfather, William Cassius Goodloe the First, with him to St. Petersburg. Eventually William the First was appointed ambassador to Belgium, fought in the Civil War, obtaining the rank of Captain, but was ultimately killed in a duel to settle hard feelings over an election. These Goodloes take electioneering seriously. Unfortunately for William the First, the other duelist had a pistol whereas he had only a bowie knife. William the First lost the duel, but so did the other duelist. Both died.
Bill’s other grandfather was U.S. Senator John L. Wilson. Senator Wilson ultimately became co-owner of the Post Intelligencer. But Bill never complained the PI slanted the news in his favor.
Bill spent the early years of his life in "Loudon," a remarkable ancestral home which has now been turned into an art museum in Lexington, Kentucky.
Bill was interested in history, perhaps because his own family had so much of it. He was state president of the Sons of the American Revolution and state governor of the Society of Mayflower Descendants. He gave slide shows on famous early Americans and wrote articles on historical topics.
Besides family, Bill loved politics and principles. Family, politics, and principles seem to be a strange mix for these times but Bill Goodloe was an exceptional man. He was State Republican Chairman in the ‘60s, served for eight years in the Washington State Senate, and, after his retirement from the bench, published the Goodloe Report, and again ran for a political office. While a Senator he was the sole sponsor of the original resolution to host the Seattle World’s Fair. The Goodloe Report was Bill’s candid assessment of what was going on in the courts. When you heard your name appeared in the Goodloe Report, Justice Goodloe immediately had your attention.
Bill also helped his friends. He helped me very much in my election to the Supreme Court and told me about his.
Justice William Goodloe authored 56 majority opinions while he was on the Supreme Court, 34 dissents, and 12 concurrences. There is a common strain that runs through these opinions and most of his endeavors in life. Justice Goodloe believed in personal freedom and saw it as his duty to give every litigant who appeared before him the full benefit of the law. But legislating was for the legislature, he said.
One of his majority opinions, of which I took particular note at the time of its publication, was Allingham v. City of Seattle. There Justice Goodloe opined, on behalf of a unanimous court, that the City of Seattle’s greenbelt ordinance violated the rights of property owners by taking a portion of their property without just compensation. Frankly, Allingham was my personal favorite. But as fate would have it I believe this was the only Supreme Court opinion he ever wrote which was subsequently overruled. However, even then it may well be that Justice Goodloe was simply ahead of his time, judging from recent opinions from the United States Supreme Court.
Before giving this presentation, I asked Justice Goodloe’s wife, Ruth, to tell me how Bill would like to be remembered. She said Bill wanted to be remembered as a devoted family man who spent his best summers on the Goodloe’s boat with the family in the San Juans. She said he even enjoyed the rain. She said he wanted to be remembered for his public service, that he enjoyed being a lawyer, enjoyed being a judge, and was very proud to serve as a Justice on the Washington State Supreme Court. I remember him as a good friend, a fun person to be around, and the man that married my wife and me almost 14 years ago. We that knew William Cassius Goodloe, III, were better for it. He did not die in pain, or in vain. The last time I saw him he told me his father was calling him home and he was ready to go. We miss him.