When former Bellefonte Mayor Stanley Goldman died Sunday at 84, the borough lost a pillar of the community.
“Stan was a delightful guy,” said close friend and fellow Kiwanis member Dick Kisslak. “He was cheery and he always had a good thing to say about people.”
Goldman was elected as Bellefonte mayor in 2001 and served until 2012, when he resigned due to health reasons. But his involvement with the community went well beyond his elected years.
Goldman graduated from Bellefonte High School in 1950, according to his obituary submitted by his wife, Dona Goldman. After studying at Penn State, he went on to become the first special education teacher in Centre County, leading him to an almost 50-year relationship with Skills of Central Pennsylvania.
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Stan was a delightful guy. He was cheery and he always had a good thing to say about people.
Friend and fellow Kiwanis member Dick Kisslak
But many longtime residents remember him as the proprietor of the National Store in what is now Bellefonte’s Temple Court Building. Bellefonte police Chief Shawn Weaver recalled always doing his back to school shopping at the store during his high school years.
“We didn’t go to the mall and shop,” Weaver said. “Whenever it was time to go to school, my friends and I would go to the National Store and get our five pairs of jeans.
“Stan wouldn’t let you leave the store without asking if you needed a pair of socks,” he said.
The store “reeked of small-town America,” Weaver said, something Goldman was very passionate about. He described Goldman and his wife as very loving people who were very involved in the community.
Kisslak said Goldman could communicate with anybody, but never pushed his position of leadership — in his role with Skills, the Kiwanis, as mayor — on anyone. His specialty was to get people talking and exchanging ideas, and he had the “uncanny” ability to think things out.
“He was a great leader in the community,” Kisslak said. “He was never ‘Let’s do this and let you do it.’ He was ‘Let’s do this and helped you do it.’ ”
His wife said they were both active in the community, saying his philosophy was that if you made a living from the people and the community, you had an obligation to give back to the community.
He was a very hard worker, Dona said, saying it was common for him to be in the National Store at 6 a.m. But he played hard too, and loved a round of golf.
Community service was their common factor, she said, and they supported each other as they supported all the events in Bellefonte, including the Arts and Crafts Fair, the Bellefonte Cruise and securing a location for the Bellefonte Art Museum.
But the pair also had the chance to travel, she said, as he always wanted to be on the move. During their time together, they traveled the country, and also to Europe, Israel and South America.
Bellefonte borough Manager Ralph Stewart said he worked with the borough the entire time Goldman was mayor, saying that Goldman’s personality was his most memorable aspect.
He was a very special people person. He worked to get along with everyone.
Bellefonte Borough Manager Ralph Stewart
“He was a very special people person,” Stewart said. “He worked to get along with everyone.”
Goldman had a strong interest in seeing Bellefonte revitalized, he said, and worked hard for the borough to grow economically. He was also an early promoter of the waterfront redevelopment project.
When push came to shove, he said, Goldman showed himself to be a strong leader who was able to negotiate deals that were good for the borough.
“We’re all going to miss him,” Stewart said. “His time was appreciated and he gave a lot of that time to the community.”
Former Centre County Court of Common Pleas Senior Judge Charles Brown said he was a longtime friend of Goldman’s, saying they enjoyed playing golf together. He said Goldman had an eye on what the future of Bellefonte ought to be, saying it had been some time since anyone thought of the borough in that way.
“The community was facing the challenge of nearby growth,” Brown said. “State College, the Nittany Mall, some were asking what was Bellefonte’s future, and some didn’t see much of a future.
“Not Goldman,” he said. “He saw the community had a great future, and saw his role as mayor as a promoter of Bellefonte.”
He saw the community had a great future, and saw his role as mayor as a promoter of Bellefonte.
Senior Judge Charles Brown
By anyone’s criteria, he said, Bellefonte has experienced a renaissance, and Goldman was very much at the forefront of that.
Even in his later years, Goldman’s cheerful and generous nature never waned.
His longtime neighbor Susan Showers said after he had been taken to Centre Crest, he enjoyed playing bingo. After winning a game, he gave her the opportunity to choose the prize, opting for a small necklace.
Showers said she wore the necklace Tuesday during Goldman’s funeral service. She said she always viewed him as a father figure, and she was like a daughter to him.
“It was a wonderful life well-lived,” Dona said. “He was a very good father and provider. He will be missed.”