Remembering Maggie

Maggie (left) having lunch in Paris with Dorcy Erlandson and Gevene Hertz. July 2013




Maggie Goodwin was a beloved and respected figure in EUU for many years. Here’s how some of her friends remember her.

Phil Campbell

Maggie was a terrific person and a terrific friend.

Martha and John Hicks

We always loved seeing Maggie at the retreats and missed her when she was no longer able to come. We miss her throaty laugh, her enthusiasm, her service as treasurer and all the other tasks she took on for EUU. We miss her mile-wide smile. She was always interested and interesting. May she live on long in our hearts.

Janie Spencer

About Maggie: Maggie and I were long time friends. We always had a drink together at the retreats. I went to visit her when she was in the hospital and at her lovely Paris flat. Sometimes we went to lunch nearby. She was generous. One example, Maggie left me two pairs of beautiful gloves she didn’t wear anymore. Maggie was kind. She never made me feel I wasn’t wanted, no matter how others treated me. I don’t know how or even who started it, but I always called her the party girl, for whether ill, alone, or in tight circumstances, she liked to have fun. Rest in peace, my dear party girl.

Laura Stahnke

Maggie loved working in a team; she never looked for the limelight, she just wanted to be a backup or a woman behind the scenes: when I was president of the UUFP–UU Fellowship of Paris (2005–7) she gave me warm and generous support as vice president. She was light, funny, practical and hard working for our UUFP team. After this period, she became a close friend and cooked delicious beef stews and shared many stories. We enjoyed many tea times together; she loved lemon and chocolate pastries! I miss her!

Peter Jarrett

My memories of Maggie date back about 30 years when Claire and I were new members of UUFP, and she hosted us at her apartment in the 7th arrondissement for dinner. She was a gracious host. But even as she aged and grew frailer, whenever she was able to turn out to an event, either in Paris or an EUU retreat beyond, she was always keen to make the most of it and to charm you with her big smile, her mellifluous voice and her infectious laugh. But she was more than that. She was always trying to see the positive and to mediate between different points of view. She did a lot for both groups and had a lot of friends deeply devoted to her in each. We are all lessened by her departure. Love you, Maggie!

Betty Abugheida

Maggie and I were UUFP delegates to the EUU planning meetings usually held in Belgium or Holland. So twice a year we made the trip together for a challenging time; Maggie was a great traveling companion to say the least.

Birthe Stein

I went to visit Maggie in the hospital. As I cracked open the door to her room, where she lay covered in bandages having burned her mouth and her nose, her voice rang out: Birthe, how’re you doin’, how’s the knee?

When I started to become involved with UUFP, Maggie was my unfailing helper and resource. She knew everything about the laws of French associations and about how to declare and search on the internet. When my address became the official UUFP address, I received lots of info and documents from the French administration that Maggie helped me to deal with. She was always willing to help! And as far as I know, she was always right 😉

John Eichrodt

When I heard that Maggie had passed on, I asked Cornélie whether she remembered her. Both Cornelie and I are now over 80, and know our generation is passing on. Cornélie replied that of course she remembered Maggie.

I think everyone remembers Maggie. For my part, that covers decades of retreats, when she was always present, welcoming us with her understanding smile that said so much.

She knew.

And she kept us together across Europe for a good part of EUU’s life. She did that essentially by being herself, with her quick and sharp intelligence, her pragmatic, no nonsense approach to management, and her faith in what we were doing, so that EUU because of Maggie, and many of my generation, became a steady spiritual force in the life of hundreds over decades:

for me, for us, and for our families.

Thanks Maggie. May the coming generations do nearly as well.

Gevene and John Hertz

I can’t remember at which retreat we first met Maggie. I know our sons, Josh and Dan, were still attending retreats with us, so it must have been in the early 90s. She was part of a lively group that stayed up late in the bar, and the boys were staying up with them, long after John and I had conked out in our beds after the long drive from Denmark.

After that, Maggie was always THERE, a real fixture at retreats, and serving as EUU treasurer and president during a period that was stressful, to put it mildly. She was loyal and dependable – always had a ready suggestion and the perseverance to make things work. Of course, on top of this, she was fun and wonderful company, and we treasured our times with her, discussing everything and everyone under the sun. She was one of the people we always looked for when we arrived at a retreat, and someone we made sure to share a meal with, have a drink or coffee with, and generally hang out with. After she could no longer attend retreats regularly, we visited her a few times in her apartment or met for lunch when we were in Paris. She’ll always be a happy part of our memories of Paris and EUU, and we miss her a lot.

Vicki & Scott Gassler

Scott and I have too many fond memories of Maggie to count, from general impressions of talks between sessions and after hours at retreats to walks around retreat sites and around Paris. She was always fun! One specific incident, though, which was one she reminded us of as a fond memory of hers, comes from a retreat in Colmar in 1992. She was one of the retreat planners, her first time in the role. We were there with Gregory and our daughter and her son, then a one-year-old. We were partying at about 11 and our daughter was in the room with the baby and Gregory. She sent Gregory to look for us with an emergency; she had leaned on the sink in the room and it broke off the wall. Maggie had to deal with this plumbing emergency at 11 on a Saturday evening in unknown territory. Vandi was holding the sink up to the wall to prevent further flooding, and wearing out. Maggie resolved the situation by having someone – I think John Eichrodt – fetch a log from the surrounding woods to prop up the sink till the next day when we could get proper help. Problem dealt with – but Maggie never forgot!

Oh, and I also tease Scott about the time she referred to him casually as “rather dishy”.

The world is a little darker without her.

Rachael Epstein (UUFP 1995 – 2016)

In addition to the many shared UU memories with Maggie in UUFParis and EUU, she was special to me in my personal journey for my 21 1/2 years living in Orsay, France.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, Maggie could help me through, due to her previous experience. Having no knowledge of how the French hospital system worked, I needed advice. She gave me multiple practical suggestions, as well as emotional support through the process.

After all of my treatments were completed in 1997, I met Maggie and drove her to check a future EUU Retreat site in France (Dourdan). It was great to be able to offer to be her chauffeur and witness her expertise in coordinating with that site. We had a wonderful day visit, since it was just the two of us in the car. How sublime to be able to discuss the serious and the silly with her.

When I had my Croning Ceremony at the Fall Retreat in 2005, of course I chose Maggie to be in the center of my spiral journey, to help drape the shawl I had chosen as my symbol of having arrived. I hold her near me each time I wear that shawl.

A wonderful mentor and friend, Maggie will be sorely missed.

Blessings to all of us sharing her memory,

Carolyn White-Lesieur

Maggie was a good friend, a wise advisor, someone to laugh with or someone whose shoulder you could cry upon. And then laugh again.

We first connected in 1990 or 91 on the quai of the Seine where we church-goers went after the service for a picnic. My daughter was 2 or 3. Maggie and I had an earnest conversation about…mattresses! And all the while, she was nervous that my daughter would fall into the Seine, and she thought I was rather too relaxed about it! And that is how we always recalled how we first met and connected!

She asked me to help her organize the EUU Retreat in Reims, and we got to know each other even better and drew closer perhaps because the Retreat helped her through the grief of losing her sister Jean during our preparations.

I spent many hours on the phone with Maggie and loved our conversations. I would take notes sometimes on the advice she would give for whatever difficult situation I might be facing. Or her method of cooking a turkey and doing baked potatoes at Thanksgiving.

I moved back to the states in 2008 and only visited Paris a few times a year. When I would tell my husband I was going over to Maggie’s for a little while, we both knew I wouldn’t be back until near midnight! Maggie sure was a night owl, and we always had so much to talk about.

We held our breath when we learned she was in the hospital, but she always bounced back, and we got to visit a lot of different Paris hospitals. The best was the Hôpital Bichat where, from her 11th floor room, one could see all of Paris!

Maggie was a special person, and I am not alone in missing her and not quite believing she is not on the other end of the telephone. But, we can always believe she is, for a fleeting moment.

Elaine McCarthy

I met Maggie at the very first EUU retreat I went to — I’d gone out on a terrace of the youth hostel to “hide out” and have a private smoke and was surprised to find her there. We agreed it felt like sneaking out of school when we were teenagers. She was probably EUU president then and “in charge” of the whole thing (I remember a later one where I was a volunteer following her amazing computer chart of events when it was UUFP’s turn to organize), but we found comradeship in being “the bad girls” — in it more for the fellowship and friendship than for finding religion.

Much later, when my “boys” were away at university, and I was divorcing, I lived in a chambre de bonne across the street from Maggie, and because she was there, I felt at “home”, not alone. She shared her favorite shops and restaurants, and we walked over to Champs de Mars to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day. And of course, there was the corner café, where she was known as “Queen Margaret” — scene of so many great “ladies’ lunches” full of laughter.

Now we all talk about how difficult it is to believe we’re not going to see Maggie’s beautiful smile again. I think we also wonder if we ourselves will be able to achieve the radiant resilience she personified. I know I do. She gave me two pairs of shoes when she left Paris — and I know I can never fill them.