Thursday, July 21, 2005

Howard Carpenter Goff, BSBA 1949 (1926--2005)

Today's Boston Globe has an obituary for Howard C. Goff. Mr. Goff was a great friend of Babson College and a member of the Babson Class of 1949. He died July 17th, the day before his 79th birthday.
Pictured are Bill Cruickshank and Howard Goff. 1988.

Below is the text of the article relating to Mr. Goff.

"I'm damn grateful," says Howard Goff '49. "Babson gave

me the opportunity to become something besides a

clerk, to get a college degree, and work in a field where

I had some ability.

"You see, I never expected to go to college. My family had

no money for it." Growing up in Attleboro, Massachusetts,

during the Depression, the son of a factory foreman, Howard

took the commercial course in high school so he could get a

job as a bookkeeper. But then World War II came along and

changed things. The Army Air Force sent him to Europe, and

when his tour of duty was over, he was eligible to go to

college under the G.I. Bill.

Arriving on the Babson campus in the fall of 1946, wearing

his Army field jacket ("I was still on the military payroll and

didn't have any civilian clothes"), Howard plunged into

Babson's accelerated three-year program. In his first accounting

class with "Pete" Petersen (now Babson's senior faculty [retired 1990]

member), he recalls, "I must have been up too late the night

before and had fallen asleep. Suddenly, Petersen's stern voice

woke me: 'Goff, define a debit.' 'A left-hand entry,' I mum-

bled. Quipped Petersen, 'Well, if you know that, you can go

back to sleep. You don't need this class.' "

Howard couldn't coast very long on his high school

bookkeeping, but he did find accounting came easily and

decided to major in it. Though some of his friends didn't

like the required liberal arts courses - "the college is just

trying to teach us the difference between chicken

cacciatore and Shostakovich" - Howard enjoyed those

classes just as much as the business courses.

Babson lived up to all Howard's expectations. His only

concern was that he might run out of money - after about

two years, his G.I. Bill benefits were supposed to stop. But

they didn't. Howard believes that either the Veterans

Administration stretched his benefits, or because he was on

Dean's List most of the time, Babson paid for his last year.

"I'll never know what happened. You can see why Babson

means so much to me."

After graduation, he wanted to work overseas. The War

had shown him "there's a big world outside Massachusetts. I

also knew I'd be given responsibility a lot faster abroad." He

went to Dean of Students Everett Stephens for career advice:

"Don't go the CPA route," he said, "but use accounting and

finance as stepping stones to general management."

Those words guided Howard in his 34-year international

career with Mobil. "The first year out of college I took over

a large section of an accounting department for Standard-

Vacuum [a Mobil subsidiary] in Indonesia, so my Babson

training got a test real fast." And just as Stephens had

predicted, finance and accounting jobs led to general manage-

ment - eventually, to senior management. Howard rose to

be director of Mobil's Middle East Affiliates, representing

Mobil in the Middle East during the oil crises of the 1970s,

before retiring in 1983.

Babson had made such a great difference in his life that

in the 1970s he began looking for ways to "give back."

Visiting the campus for Babson Corporation meetings, he

realized the college needed a convenient and comfortable

place for alumni to stay. He envisioned an apartment "in the

midst of the campus, just for alumni, not visiting VIPs."

Through Howard's generosity, a section of Park Manor South

was remodeled into a spacious apartment and named the

Goff Alumni Suite.

Howard believes that when alumni stay in the suite, they

feel the college cares about them. He uses this personal

approach in raising money for Babson as well. When he and

fellow Senior Agent Bill Cruickshank write to their classmates,

they send a warm, personal letter signed, 'All the best, Bill

and Howard." On the envelope, "Bill and Howard" is hand-

written in ink above the college's return address.

This personal touch, Howard maintains, helps to explain

why the class of '49 is always first in dollars raised and has

the highest percentage of participation in Annual Fund giving.

" A classmate said to me the other day, 'I just got my Bill and

Howard letter. If I hadn't seen your names on the envelope, I

would have thrown it away.'"

A personal approach is also the key to the success of the

Class of 1949 Scholarship Fund, Howard says. "Every year we

send photos of the scholarship recipients to every member of

our class. We call them 'our kids.' Our classmates enjoy

receiving the pictures, and every year they give more money

so we can give more scholarships. We're building a fund that

will outlive us. This is the contribution to Babson I'm

proudest of.

Written by Diane Coryell

Published in the Fall 1988 Babson Alumni Bulletin


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