Rosalind Goodman: 1941 - 2014
A Champion for Philanthropy

“You have to have a great perseverance and a mega passion.” Rosalind Goodman could have just as easily been speaking about herself, rather than about the dedicated scientists at the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre (GCRC). Devoting the latter part of her life to supporting cancer research that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of future generations, Rosalind wore the hat of philanthropist as if it were a custom fit. And few can emulate the level of commitment she has demonstrated to the cause. 

Rosalind led a life of giving. From an early age, her mega passion to provide help where it was needed most inspired others to follow. A proud McGill alumna, she became actively involved in McGill initiatives that were close to her heart, and her family backed various endeavors not only at the Centre, but in the Faculty of Law, the Department of Oncology and the Schulich School of Music. Together with her husband, Morris, she bestowed a transformative donation in 2008 to support cancer research at the GCRC, after which it is named. This monumental gift marked the beginning of an endearing and fruitful relationship between the Goodmans and the scientists, students and staff at the GCRC; a relationship that continues to blossom to this day. 

Known for her ability to rally others around a common purpose, she was one of the visionaries behind the launch of the GCRC’s wildly successful public forums to spread the latest findings in cancer research and preventive measures to the community. Driven by the motto, “Knowledge is Power”, the valuable information provided in these sessions has been credited with helping save lives. Rosalind was also the driving force behind the GCRC’s biennial gala, which has raised several million dollars towards cancer research since its inception in 2010.

Meticulous and organized in her approach, Rosalind epitomized what it meant to be a “professional volunteer.” She advocated tirelessly on behalf of the causes close to her heart, even making it her mission to acknowledge each donation to the Centre with a personally signed letter in her signature green ink. Her great perseverance at McGill and across the wider Montreal Jewish community earned her immense admiration and respect, as much for her stellar leadership skills as for her unrelenting enthusiasm. She served in high-profile roles with the Jewish General Hospital, Federation CJA, Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, Israel Bonds, Canadian Friends of the Israel Museum, MAZON Canada, the Jewish Public Library and United Jewish Communities, among others. Her life’s work earned her many prestigious awards, including the Jewish community’s highest honour, the Samuel Bronfman Medal, the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Outstanding Volunteer Award, and an Honorary Doctorate from McGill.

Her generosity also transcended to everyday life, where she readily gave of her time and energy with kindness. She brought presents to the staff on special occasions, as thanks for their hard work. And few meetings with Rosalind passed by without the sharing of one of her homemade loaves or other scrumptious treats. Her passion for cooking even spawned the creation of an award-winning cookbook that has been used as a fundraiser for cancer research and as promotion for the GCRC’s work. Her fun-loving nature was also the catalyst for the creation of a dance video endorsing the Centre, which was met with high praise.

“You’re going to get nowhere without basic research and you can’t skip this step.” Rosalind was passionate about moving cancer research forward and firmly believed that building fundamental knowledge was the path to conquering this disease. How untoward that the disease that she fought so hard against, was also what she eventually fell victim to on August 11, 2014, when her own personal battle with cancer ended. True to her altruistic and selfless character, her fight for a cure for cancer was for future generations, “for our children and grandchildren”, as she put it. Her personal maxim to encourage donations became, “We are not asking for ourselves, but for those who aren't able to ask.”

Rosalind’s great perseverance and mega passion have left an indelible mark on the many people who have benefited from her charitable spirit, from her dedication and from her caring nature. Despite her passing, her legacy lives on through the creation of a commemorative scholarship to aid senior graduate students, as well as the renaming of the Rosalind Goodman Atrium in her honour. The journey that Rosalind embarked on also continues, as the benefits of her family’s tremendous support are coming to light through the bounteous research successes that the Centre boasts.

Her motivation was clear, and she never wavered in her conviction that, “Hopefully, one day there will be a cure for cancer.”

Tribute to Rosalind Goodman