David Goldsher (1925-1996) owned and operated a clothing store in Athol for most of his life, but two other things - reading and family - were much more important to him than any business-related activity.
Recently, David's widow Pat, and three of their four children, came to town to present a gift of $5,000 to benefit the Athol Public Library and honor David as the founder of the Friends of the Library. The money launches a memorial fund that can be added to in the future. Library Director Deb Blanchard gave a tour of the library to the Goldshers, all of whom said their achievements are tied to their parents' learning-based vision.
Spearheading the effort was Steve Goldsher, of Conway, a dentist specializing in periodontics with offices in Greenfield and Northampton. He did his undergraduate studies at Clark University in Worcester, obtained his degree in dentistry at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and completed graduate studies at Boston University. He is married with three children.
Of the four, Verne Goldsher is the one with the strongest on-going link to Athol, as he has a practice in general dentistry on Brickyard Road in town. He formerly lived in North Orange, but relocated to Harvard. He is married with three children. He received his undergraduate education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and his dentistry degree from Howard.
The youngest of the Goldsher children is Andrea Monderer who lives in Andover with her husband and two children. She earned a bachelor's degree from Clark and a master's in social work from Boston University. She worked for a time with the elderly, but now describes herself as a stay-at-home mom.
Allan Goldsher of Tewksbury had a work-related obligation that kept him from attending this event, but he plans to visit the new library soon. He is a senior advisor for the Federal Aviation Administration. Married with two children, he received both bachelor's and master's degrees from UMass.
The Goldsher children shared strikingly similar memories as they described their father's influence on them, especially his love for the printed word.
They noted he was a voracious reader himself, often immersed in several books at one time, as well as newspapers and magazines, while urging them to read - and then read some more.
His epitaph could well be "Go to the library. Read a good book," commented Steve, who listed four traits that characterized his father and had a great influence on his offspring in their home on Wallingford Avenue. These were inquisitiveness, setting high standards for the next generation, a strong work ethic, and giving back to the community.
Andrea recalled how her father would be reading something in the newspaper and call out to her, "Come look at this!"
Verne noted that his dad "would stay up all hours reading, and always talking about what he was reading."
Allan commented, "My Dad loved to chase after knowledge. He was far more interested in learning than he was interested in running a business. The part about business he enjoyed was meeting people and learning about their interests and lives."
His children admit that at times, when they just wanted to do fun things, their father's urgings were annoying, but Andrea noted nonetheless that "his words and desires for us, I feel, still live on in each of us, and I find that I want these same endeavors for my children. Indeed, the library support is a wonderful way to honor our father and in some way, help to foster learning for future generations."
David Goldsher was a 1944 graduate of Athol High School and received a bachelor's degree from American International College, Springfield, with a focus on history.
Active in service groups such as the Masons and the Exchange Club, David was an avid bicycle rider. Allan noted that he continued to ride his bike as an adult when virtually no men in Athol would ride, thinking of a bike as a "toy for children." David's diagnosis later in life with multiple sclerosis (MS) was described by his brother, Marvin Goldsher of Chicago, as "a cruel fate."
Steve believes his father's interest in books grew even stronger when he became physically handicapped, with forays into books giving him a chance to escape and revive his "adventuresome spirit." Steve is also a bike-riding enthusiast and participates with other family members in fund-raising rides to benefit research into MS.
Mrs. Goldsher was the "backbone of the family," added Steve. He said, "She was a super mom. As my dad was the architect of ideas, my mom was the general contractor of making those dreams reality. She was also an avid reader. She had a microbiology degree from UMass and managed the lab at Athol Memorial Hospital.
As the library tour came to a close, Steve commented, "My father would be extremely pleased to see this place and the way it is so creative and brings the community together. It is clearly one of the best things happening in Athol, and books are the key that unlocks everything."
In association with the $8.5 million library renovation, the Friends of the Library raised nearly $300,000, primarily for furnishings. Excited by the new Goldsher fund honoring the group's founder, board member Barbara Robichaud lauded treasurer Lil Bachelder, and secretary Jean White, for their consistent leadership in this organization of more than 300 members.
I encourage everyone, especially those who have fond memories of David Goldsher, to join the Friends. Membership is only five dollars a year, and a current Friends newsletter and membership form are available at the library.