In June 2021, SLCHA lost a wonderful and dedicated member of its Board of Trustees, Rita Goldberg. Rita had spent her career teaching Spanish at St. Lawrence University and held the honor of being the longest serving faculty member, teaching from 1957 until her retirement in 2001. During that time, she was awarded the Charles A. Dana Professorship of Modern Languages and Literatures in recognition of her exemplary scholarship and won the Maslow Award in 1982 for her commitment to students. Rita founded and directed the SLU study abroad program in Madrid, Spain. In 2002, in Rita’s honor, friends and colleagues established the Goldberg Fund in International Study, which has helped many students to travel and study abroad.
Rita gave generously of her time to the SLCHA and her contributions to the success of the Museum and its Archives were numerous. As a member of the SLCHA Board of Trustees for over ten years, she was the Treasurer, Finance Committee Chair and served on the Personnel/Nominating Committee, Publications Committee and the Living Legacy Committee. She guided SLCHA in strengthening its ties with the Northern New York Community Foundation.
A scholar and writer, Rita contributed articles to the SLCHA Quarterly Magazine. These were: John C. Peggs: Canton's First World War One Fatality (Part 1), Canton's First World War One Fatality, John Peggs (Part 2) and Mrs. McFalls' Campaign Song. Jointly with Roger Bailey, Rita wrote two articles: Seeking James Ricalton and James Ricalton-His Work Was His Life, which comprised the entire 4 th Quarterly issue in 2020.
Rita also spent countless hours volunteering in the SLCHA Archives where she assisted researchers in finding information. In Rita's memory, the Board of Trustees has named the new digital workstation in the Archives, The Dr. Rita Goldberg Memorial Workstation. The plaque on the workstation reads: This station is dedicated to Dr. Rita Goldberg (1933-2021) in honor of the time, dedication, effort, and generosity she devoted to the St. Lawrence County Historical Association and the continued preservation of our county's history.
I always felt there was something special about Rita. She was an intellectual - in the full sense of the word, one who places high value on pursuits of the mind. She thought before she spoke with modesty and confidence, belying her academic achievements and overwhelming contributions to education and academia.
During several interesting conversations, we discovered that both of us attended the same college as undergrads, in different decades. How strange it was to find that out way up in the North Country. We shared travel experiences and Rita talked about her love of the work and time spent in Spain. She became interested in the opportunities presented by the Internet and computer technology in education, genealogy, and archival preservation and sharing. Rita contributed that knowledge to SLCHA as a Board member of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association.
I will remember seeing her sit before Madrid's vibrant Playa Major (virtual background) during a Zoom meeting, and the way her telephone voicemail message began with a melodic "ola."
Every once in a while we get a reminder about how fleeting and frail life is - and how valuable the present moments are.