On Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 Dick Goddard passed away at the age of 89. The gray skies were fitting over Northeast Ohio as word spread of Goddard’s passing. The legendary meteorologist spent more than five decades with Channel 8 in Cleveland. He earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest on-air career as a meteorologist. Viewers shared a love of Goddard’s sense of humor on screen along with his weather forecasts. He was trusted to give expert advice on Cleveland’s ever-changing weather patterns. Goddard retired from Channel 8 in November of 2016.
Goddard was also an avid sports fan and spent 32 years as the football statistician for the Cleveland Browns radio broadcasts. He was at the Browns home games from 1966-2011 covering the stats. Channel 8’s sports anchor, Jim Telich, looks back at being in the booth with Goddard at a game “He had that grease board and was in constant motion, writing the yardage down,” Telich said. “He was very proud that his numbers were dead on. He was a huge sports fan, and if you threw the name of any high school in the state of Ohio at him, he could give you their nickname or mascot.” Cleveland is a sports town and with Goddard’s love of sports coupled with his endearing presence, he gained the hearts of Clevelanders.
Dick also became the face of a champion for animal rights. On Friday evenings Channel 8 would feature “Goddard’s Dogs” where there were six dogs for adoption from Cuyahoga Animal Shelter. Goddard furthered his activism in May of 2016 when House Bill 60, named Goddard’s Law passed the Ohio House and Senate. The bill made it a fifth-degree felony to knowingly cause physical harm to a companion animal. Goddard made it his mission to stand up for animals and strengthen Ohio’s animal welfare laws. He was successful as the Bill was signed into law by Governor John Kasich and went into effect in September 2016.
Goddard didn’t just talk the talk when it came to his help and love for each animal. My family had a personal experience with Mr. Goddard. It was Christmas Eve 1996 and our family dog was in an emergency clinic with a herniated disc. The clinic was charging for the tests and x-rays and wouldn’t release our pup without a significant payment up front. It was the holidays and my parents didn’t have the extra money to retrieve our dachshund. My Mother called Channel 8 in an attempt to reach Mr. Goddard. She had hoped we could find a way to have our fur baby home for Christmas. Dick personally returned her phone call and made arrangements for her to pick up our dog on Christmas Eve at no cost. When Dick initially called my Brother hung up on him, thinking it was a prank call. Mr. Goddard actually had a good laugh at that when my Mother called him back and explained. This speaks to the wonderful spirit Dick had and that he wasn’t too big of a name, in the industry, to help average people. That is a memory of Mr. Goddard that has stayed with our family. The kindness that he showed will never be forgotten.
His love for furry animals didn’t stop with dogs. Goddard created the Woolybear Festival in Vermilion in 1973. The festival draws over one hundred thousand visitors every year to pay tribute to the Woolybear caterpillar. This fuzzy creature’s stripes famously predict upcoming winters, giving Ohio its own version of Groundhog’s Day each fall.
Goddard touched Northeast Ohioans in different ways. Whether it be delivering the news that school was canceled as a child or watching him save dogs from the pound, he was one of a kind. The definition of salt of the earth. His humility and his contributions to the community can’t be replaced. There’s a saying “All dogs go to heaven” and if that’s true, Dick Goddard is amongst them smiling and playing. Thank you for being an example of what goodness is…rest in peace Mr. Goddard you will be missed.