Obituaries: Goldsmith, Willingham, Dickerson

Henry Goldsmith
“Funny.” “Fiercely intelligent.” “Friendly.” “Dapper.” “Urbane.” “Sophisticated.” These are among the words that came to the minds of Shelter Islanders who knew and admired Henry Goldsmith.

An Island weekender and enthusiastic early supporter of and contributor to many institutions including Mashomack, Friends of Music and the Ram Island Association among others that are now part of the Island’s fabric.

Henry died in Palm Beach, Florida, January 29, 2014 just a few weeks shy of his 99th birthday. He and his wife, the late Janet Fox, moved to Palm Beach in the late 1980s. But Henry remained devoted to the Island, visiting occasionally, staying in touch with long-time friends like Alex Garcia, and often writing letters to the editor at the Reporter, commenting on Island issues and suggesting ways  to improve our quality of life.

Henry was born Heinrich Goldschmidt in Berlin on March 4, 1915. He left Berlin in 1933 to escape the anti-Semitism of the rising Nazi movement. He worked as a cotton broker in Antwerp and Liverpool before making his way to New York in 1937 at the urging of Julius Bache, a friend of Henry’s uncle Jakob. Henry worked for Bache’s Wall Street firm until 1942, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He became one of the Ritchie Boys, the famed World War II military intelligence unit; later he was assigned as a liaison officer in England for British and American units in counterintelligence. After V-E Day and in the run-up to the Nuremburg trials, he played a significant role in the interrogation of high-ranking German officers.

While in the service he met and married Ms. Fox, a Broadway actress who was the niece of Edna Ferber. They remained married until Ms. Fox’s death in 2002.

From the early 1950s, Henry was executive vice president and general manager of Greystone Press, a pioneer in monthly mail-order books and music. It was during his time with Greystone that he and Janet first came to Shelter Island.

Here Henry pursued with enthusiasm and energy his enjoyment of swimming, boating and bridge as well as his passion for excellent food, wine, conversation and music — preferably in combination. Indeed, he kept carefully selected wines in the dirt cellar deep beneath Alex’s Ram Island house. When he left the Island, Henry made a present of his remaining selections to Alex, who parceled them out on special occasions, always raising a toast to Henry as he poured.

Henry is survived by his loving daughter Julie Gilbert Holof, his son-in-law Bob Holof and his beloved companion of the past many years, Anita Seltzer.

Even now, Henry’s affection for Shelter Island remains evident: he asked before he died that contributions in his memory be made to Mashomack Preserve.

Kathleen Ann Willingham
Kathleen Ann Willingham, 66, passed away on February 13, 2014 at her home in Greer, South Carolina after a lengthy illness. She was surrounded by family.

Kathleen grew up and attended school on Shelter Island. She was a direct descendant of one of the oldest families on the Island.

She was predeceased by her mother and father, Florence and Frederick W. Ogar, and her sister, Maryellen. She is survived by her devoted husband Kensell Willingham, son Michael and wife Casey of Macon, Georgia and daughter Mary and husband Steve Rawson of Greer. She is also survived by her loving sisters and brothers, Alyce and husband Lee Mayo of Colchester, Vermont; Rosemarie and husband Chet Waterhouse of Milford, Delaware; Fred C. Ogar and wife Dot, Walter J. Ogar, Arthur W. Ogar and wife Toni — all of Shelter Island; and by several grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

Her sister wrote, “Our dear Lord has a new angel in heaven and we will miss and love her forever.”

Captain George J. Dickerson
Captain George J. Dickerson passed away at his home on February 14, 2014. Visiting hours will be held at the DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home on Shelter Island on Friday, February 21 between 2 and 4 p.m. An American Legion memorial service, including the presentation of national colors and scripture, will take place during the 7 and 9 p.m. visiting hours at the funeral home.

The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 22 at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church.

An obituary will appear in the February 28 edition of the Reporter.