Nancy Goddard loved Maine.

She loved the state’s parks and lighthouses, its music and food. But more than anything, friends say, Goddard loved Maine’s people.

“She loved all things Maine,” said Goddard’s longtime friend Maureen Cianci. “She felt that this was her place in the world.”

Nancy Goddard was a longtime social worker for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, friends said. Contributed photo

 

Goddard, 78, died in hospice on April 20.

She was a longtime social worker for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, friends said, starting out as a child protection worker before taking on administrative roles that helped shape how the state helped children at risk of abuse and neglect.

Advertisement

Goddard never stopped working in social services, even after retiring from the state following a 30-year career. She spent years volunteering with the Southern Maine Agency on Aging, friends said, where she helped connect seniors around the state with Medicare assistance. Goddard donated to libraries all over the state, practically filling their shelves, and she sent books and movies to prisons and senior homes as well.

Goddard was just as generous with her friends. She hosted Cianci and her husband in Maine on many occasions. When the couple decided to move here about 10 years ago, Goddard helped them find a place to live, they said. She shuttled them around the state for various showings before they settled on a home in Waldoboro in 2013.

And when the couple was in a head-on collision shortly afterward, Cianci said, Goddard looked after them. She even helped them find their cat, which had escaped during the crash. Cianci said Goddard was a devoted cat lover herself.

“She did things like this,” Cianci said Sunday. She spoke with a reporter from her kitchen, sitting with her husband beside pictures of Goddard from the funeral last month. There were stacks of movies a few feet away, including several of the murder mysteries she enjoyed watching with Goddard.

“She made sure everybody was taken care of,” Cianci said.

FROM TEACHING TO PROTECTING CHILDREN

Advertisement

Goddard was born an only child to a small, close-knit family. She grew up in Falmouth, where she graduated from Falmouth High School in 1963.

After graduating from Bates College about four years later, Goddard became a teacher. It was a fitting career for someone who cared deeply for the developmental well-being of children and who loved sharing literature and stories with others.

But Goddard only taught for about a year before she found something better for her: social work. She quickly enrolled at State University of New York in Albany, where she obtained her master’s before returning to Maine and becoming a child protective worker.

Cianci was in the same program. Although they were an unlikely pair – Cianci said she tended to be more boisterous in school, Goddard more reserved – they quickly became the “Thelma and Louise of Brubacher hall,” Cianci said, referring to the dorm where they lived.

“We used to bum around in that Camaro of hers,” Cianci said. On holidays, Goddard took Cianci back to Maine, where Cianci said she felt like she was Goddard’s sister.

“We just forged this beautiful friendship,” she said. “We complemented each other.”

Advertisement

Goddard and Cianci were hundreds of miles apart after grad school, but they never truly lost touch. The women continued to visit each other in the decades that followed, and Goddard was even a bridesmaid in Cianci’s wedding in 1981.

Goddard worked for the state for 30 years, Cianci said. Cianci noted in her friend’s obituary that Goddard was recognized by the National Association of Social Workers as Professional Woman of the Year.

Cianci also said that Goddard was instrumental in Maine’s implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act, ensuring that children who were removed from Indigenous families stayed in their communities and connected to their culture.

LOVED TRAVELING, PHOTOGRAPHY

Goddard had no siblings and was never married, nor did she have children – although she did once take in a family from Poland years ago, Cianci said.

In her personal time, Goddard loved traveling. She had been all over Maine and several other countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada.

Advertisement

Cianci said Goddard loved photography and captured Maine’s most scenic spots. She also loved taking pictures of friends and family.

Her large network of loved ones included many whom she adopted as family and vice versa.

Jennie Johnson said Goddard was like an aunt to her husband, Mark. Goddard was close friends with Mark’s mother, and she was always there for family gatherings and holidays.

Johnson remembered Goddard as someone who was closely attuned to the needs and interests of her friends. It made her an excellent gift giver, she said.

Even after her bone cancer diagnosis, friends said Goddard continued to help others, even prioritizing it.

She was donating even more to churches and libraries and causes, and making sure that her clothes and other belongings were going to those who needed them most.

Advertisement

At the hospital and in hospice, where Goddard spent 13 weeks, she was still advising Cianci about Medicare services, nagging her friend about sign-up dates and benefits.

“As she was getting very ill, that was her main focus,” Johnson said. “It just showed me really deeply the kind of person she was.”

Johnson said Sunday she was inspired by Goddard’s commitment to charity and service – and also, her humility. Goddard spent all of her life giving to others, Johnson said, and never sought any credit.

“Whoever she would help, she would – quietly,” said Johnson. “I don’t know how she would feel about an article about her.”

filed under: