NEWTOWN - Thomas Goosman, a son of Russian immigrants who began working on his parents' Newtown dairy farm when he was 9 and spent a lifetime contributing his time and money to the community, died Sunday. He was 89.
Newtown Town Clerk
, a lifelong friend and member of the
Republican Town Committee
, described Goosman as "a great guy."
"He just gave and gave and never took back," Simon said Monday. "You couldn't find a nicer family. They don't make them like that any more."
As an active, lifetime member of the
, Goosman served several terms on the town's
Board of Selectmen
and other boards and commissions.
Former Democratic First Selectman Jack Rosenthal remembered Goosman's tenure as a selectman.
"He always put the town first," Rosenthal said.
Goosman's involvement in Newtown affairs was diverse.
For 40 years Goosman supported the Newtown Ambulance Corps as an EMT and ambulance driver. In 1949, Goosman and his wife, Lilly, along with some neighbors, mortgaged their homes to raise money to build a firehouse for the
United Fire Company
Goosman was a founding member of the fire company and its representative on the
Newtown Board of Fire Commissioners
At one time he was a member of the
Lake Candlewood State Police
patrol and for 20 years served Newtown Housing for the Elderly.
Goosman was born in 1915, two years after his parents, Jacob and Sophie, settled in Newtown as one of the first families to develop a Jewish agricultural community in the Huntingtown Road area.
It was a challenging start to his life.
In 1917, when his father bought a 40-acre dairy farm in Newtown, there was no electricity in the neighborhood so Goosman's family had to use candles and kerosene lamps.
"I remember working on the farm as a boy of 9 and going to a local one-room schoolhouse where there was one teacher who taught eight classes a day to 28 children," Goosman said in an interview with The News-Times in 1999.
Goosman graduated from
Newtown High School
in 1937 and in 1940 married
, whose own parents had emigrated from Denmark in 1913. The Goosmans were married for nearly 65 years.
During World War II, Goosman worked at the Sikorsky factory in Stratford building fighter planes and other aircraft. Later, he bought a gas station on Route 25 in Monroe that he ran for 22 years and where he sold the first television sets in town.
The sets, made in Bridgeport, sold for between $300 and $400.
"Everyone had a radio, of course, but television was new and expensive," said Goosman. "Not many people were buying them. We bought ours in 1951 and everyone came to the house to watch it."
Goosman sold the service station in 1967, became assistant manager of a tire company in Bridgeport, spent some time as a real estate broker and worked in a Monroe hardware store. He left his last job as a full-time sheriff in Danbury Superior Court five years ago.
Goosman, a lifelong member and former president of Congregation Adath Israel, said he and his wife had always tried to follow their own philosophy.
"Be nice to each other and try to leave your world a little better than it was when you got here."
Contact Brian Saxton
or at (203) 731-3332.