John Goldmeier, 73, teacher at school of social work, hospital consultant

May 14, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

John Goldmeier, who taught for 30 years at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and helped establish a halfway house for patients at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, died Saturday of myelodysplasia at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 73.

The longtime Columbia resident was born in Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Jewish parents. When the Nazis rose to power in Germany, his parents sent him and his brother to England in 1939.

He first lived with a foster family in the north of England until being evacuated when British officials feared the area would be bombed. He spent the next several years in Yorkshire, attending Stoatley Rough School, a boarding school for refugee children, from which he graduated in 1945.

"I think his experiences at boarding school, helping prepare for blackouts and taking care of other refugee children who had no idea where their parents were, directed him to a career in social work. He always wanted to help people," said his wife of 40 years, the former Dorothy Fried, a retired Howard County educator. After the death of his father, Dr. Goldmeier immigrated to New York with his mother and brother, settling in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.

He worked at a variety of odd jobs, diamond cutter, garment worker, library clerk and process server, while attending evening classes at City College of New York, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1951. He then earned a master's degree in social work from Tulane University in New Orleans, before enlisting in the Army as a social worker.

He was stationed in Orleans, France, where he developed a mental health program for soldiers on outlying bases and for children in military dependents' school. He was discharged with the rank of captain in 1955.

He returned to New York and went to work for the New York City Board of Education, and during the summer was assigned to the Play School Association, which was a model for the Head Start program.

He earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1966 and remained at the university until 1969, where he was an assistant professor of casework and research.

In 1969, Dr. Goldmeier came to the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore, where he continued teaching clinical intervention in social work, especially in the areas of substance abuse, mental health and aging. He retired in 1999.

"He was a true clinician, a scholar and an outstanding teacher whose students went away far more knowledgeable than when they came in," said Jesse J. Harris, a former student who is dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work. "He was a very distinguished and gentle man who was dedicated to his students and the school."

Thomas V. Vassil, a colleague and professor of social work, described him as a man of "great civility" who "really loved his work and was very serious in his commitment in helping others, and in doing so, was himself renewed."

At Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, where he was a consultant, he was instrumental in establishing Hamilton House, a Baltimore halfway house for the mentally ill. A consultant for 30 years with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Dr. Goldmeier wrote widely on mental health issues and frequently testified before legislative committees in Annapolis and Washington.

He was a member of the Columbia Jewish Congregation.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at the Meeting House, 5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Barry J. Goldmeier of Chevy Chase; two daughters, Karen E. Green of Chevy Chase and Susan L. Collins of La Jolla, Calif.; a brother, Ralph Goldmeier of Hewlett, N.Y.; and four grandchildren.

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