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Chapter 30: Who Was Pierre F. Goodrich? - Dane Starbuck, The Goodriches: An American Family 
The Goodriches: An American Family (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).
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Who Was Pierre F. Goodrich?
Pierre Goodrich was the most complicated man I have ever known. I could write a book about this man, but I despair of doing justice to his multisided personality and his amazing range of interests.
byron k. trippet, Wabash on My Mind
One day in late April 1971, Pierre F. Goodrich, president for thirty-five years of the Indiana Telephone Corporation, decided to visit the corporate headquarters in Seymour, Indiana. He did not come to the offices to meet with upper-level management or to discuss the company’s performance in the last business quarter. Rather, he came to see the recently installed telephone equipment, the women who responded to customer complaints (the so-called 114 girls), Marcella Patton, Mary McCallum, Jean Thomson, and the other operators and secretaries.
At seventy-six, an age when many multimillionaires have been retired for a decade, the crusty but soft-spoken CEO began asking questions of the operators: How did the new electronic switching stations work? How did the operators keep them clean? Did they like automation better than the old manual system? The operators grew weary of Mr. Goodrich’s intense curiosity. They simply wanted to get on with their work, but they were too intimidated by the austere and elderly president to seek leave from his seemingly endless questions.1
For Pierre Goodrich, the occasion was bittersweet. It was a day of nostalgia. He was old enough to remember when the mainstay of the company was the magneto-crank telephone, when telephone operators were called upon to contact the local doctor to notify him that a baby was on its way. He further recalled that the local operators in Seymour, Greensburg, and Winchester had been the hub of a great deal of information. The passing of that day was rather sad. He realized that the operators no longer knew the customers; they had become mere button pushers. Moreover, he knew that recently invented fiber optics and microwave transmission would transform modern communications even further. All these changes marked the end of an era.2
But the company president had another agenda that day. He came to discuss ideas he believed had great relevancy for years to come. Dressed in his conservative dark coat and top hat and perceived as eccentric by his employees, he wanted to discuss matters that were meaningful to him throughout his lifetime of accomplishment: a love of freedom, responsibility, personal commitment, tenacity, and other virtues he extolled and embodied.
On that day, the employees gathered into small groups to meet Mr. Goodrich, a man whom they knew more by reputation than through personal contact. He did not come to make a speech; Pierre F. Goodrich seldom made a speech. He came, in essence, to conduct a symposium, to converse about his greatest concerns and deepest beliefs: man’s ignorance and imperfection, the existence of laws not created by man, and the courage of the Founding Fathers.
The employees listened politely. Few of them had ever read, or even heard of, the Federalist or the work of the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, both of which Goodrich spoke about in detail and with passion. The informal discussions went on all afternoon and into the evening, when a company dinner was held. Goodrich later wrote a letter thanking the employees for their thought-provoking conversations, though, in fact, they had said little. Combining business with intellectual discussions was Goodrich’s lifelong habit. For Pierre Goodrich, it was difficult to say where business ended and scholarly discourse began.3
Pierre F. Goodrich was a remarkable man: unconventional, enigmatic, demanding, elusive, inquisitive, skeptical, impassioned, private, and perceptive, with nearly inexhaustive energy. “Mr. Goodrich was way before his time,” said Ruth Connolly, one of his secretaries at Liberty Fund.4
Indeed, the Indianapolis-based businessman was a visionary. As chairman of the board of Ayrshire Collieries Corporation, Goodrich began the reclamation of stripped coalfields thirty years before federal and state regulators forced such action upon coal operators. In banking and the telephone industry, he advocated changes that only in the past ten years have been fully adopted by others. His own companies bought the latest technology. He was constantly trying to find out what the competition was doing. He was keenly interested in the latest gadgets.5
Although Pierre Goodrich was visionary in his business practices, he was often anachronistic in his personal life. He did not own a television, because he believed that television would disrupt his passion for books and ideas.6 Although he could afford the best clothes, his abhorrence of waste prompted him to continue to wear suits that were badly worn and dated. In the 1960s, when smoking at work was commonplace, he demanded that his offices be nonsmoking. His demeanor was often that of the stereotypical absent-minded professor; although worth millions, he could be so deep in thought that he would forget to take pocket change for lunch.7
Defining his life presents many problems. His friends and acquaintances disagreed about Goodrich’s personality and beliefs. To some, Goodrich was gracious, hospitable, and refined;8 to others, he was irascible, suspicious, and unkempt.9 One theology professor who attended an early Liberty Fund seminar on religion left the conference convinced that his host was an atheist.10 Yet Pierre Goodrich’s discussions and writings repeatedly refer to an “infinite creator.” Moreover, his vast knowledge of Scripture was well known.11 He was convinced that the pursuit of ideas about liberty was of the utmost importance to a society, yet he did not choose to champion those ideas by the traditional means of holding a political office or an academic position. Moreover, Goodrich avoided socializing, because he believed that membership in most social organizations was a waste of time. Yet he would take any time necessary to examine some small, obscure point if he believed it would enable him to make a better business decision or if it furthered a philosophical insight.
“Hours did not mean anything to Pierre,” said Will Hays, Jr., who served with Goodrich on the Wabash College Board of Trustees. “Pierre would be so intense about something that was interesting to him, that it just consumed him. He could not understand that the person he was talking to would not be as interested in it as he was.”12
Goodrich was a voracious reader. Moreover, he constantly challenged others to read, especially material that reinforced his own strong convictions about liberty, the virtues of the free market, and the evils of governmental power. When employees and acquaintances said that they did not have time to read as broadly as Goodrich had hoped because of work or family commitments, his common response (and he meant it quite seriously) was, “What are you doing between midnight and 2:00 a.m.?” (he often stayed up that late reading himself).13 It was not uncommon for Goodrich to start business meetings with book discussions, and he often had magazine and journal subscriptions sent to friends and acquaintances.14 For instance, after Goodrich met the young Richard Lugar, a former Indianapolis mayor and currently Indiana’s senior United States senator, Goodrich sent Lugar letters containing titles of books by conservative philosophers and legal scholars. “Pierre knew that I had studied politics, philosophy, and economics at Oxford,” said Lugar. “He thought I should be aware of these writers if I hadn’t already been exposed to them.”15
Goodrich also challenged Eli Lilly, another prominent Indianapolis figure and fellow Wabash College trustee, to take up the classics.16 Anyone who visited Goodrich at his Indianapolis office, whether on a business or a personal call, was likely to leave with a book in hand or to be mailed a packet of selected readings. The material would almost always include numbers 10 and 51 of the Federalist. Also included would be a copy of the letter of the British historian Lord Acton containing the well-known admonition that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” (see appendix C).17 A list was kept of the people who visited Goodrich in the early 1970s and who were sent the above readings. The list, several pages in length, includes national political insiders, former Indiana governors, congressmen, leading national journalists, academics, and businessmen.18 It was as if Pierre Goodrich’s office was a stopping-off place for prominent figures who were on a pilgrimage to greater understanding. Goodrich was just as apt to have the same literature sent to the plumber who had fixed his sink the day before or the janitor whom he had recently engaged in vigorous debate.19
Former Indiana governor Edgar D. Whitcomb remembers when he first met Goodrich, in 1958. Whitcomb was attempting to get a manuscript that he had written published. “Once I was advised that he might be of help, I went directly to Pierre’s office and the receptionist showed me in,” said Whitcomb. “Mr. Goodrich was sitting in the corner reading a book.” Whitcomb discussed with Goodrich his manuscript, Escape from Corregidor. It was about Whitcomb’s experiences in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. “After I introduced myself and my purpose for visiting,” added Whitcomb, “Pierre pulled a watch out of his pocket and said to me, ‘It is a quarter till twelve. I can give you fifteen minutes.’”
Two and a half hours later, after lunch and a lengthy philosophical discussion, Whitcomb emerged from Goodrich’s office with at least eight books in hand; Goodrich had also called Henry Regnery on the spot, and Regnery published Whitcomb’s manuscript soon afterward.20
William Campbell, now a professor of economics at Louisiana State University, appreciated Goodrich for giving him a copy of Ludwig von Mises’s Human Action, which introduced him to economics and rational thought. Campbell credits this small gesture as having a major influence on the direction of his intellectual interests. Campbell also remembers the influence that Goodrich had on his father, Albert, a longtime law partner and business associate of Pierre’s: “My father felt personally indebted to Pierre for interesting him in the cause of human liberty. I think it is safe to say that my father would not have dedicated himself to Wabash, Hillsdale, [and] Rockford College without the personal influence of Pierre Goodrich.”21
Victor Milione, former president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, had similar praise for Goodrich. “What I admired about Pierre most was here was a man that had tremendous wealth and could have sat on his backside and played golf whenever he wanted to, but instead he got involved in issues and ideas. Pierre spent a great deal of time thinking about the future. He wasn’t simply doing these things for his own material benefit.”22
Pierre Goodrich’s strengths and foibles say much about him. He had a prodigious memory, especially for details. In both business and foundation meetings, Goodrich often prevailed in his arguments because of his ability to quote verbatim from some relatively obscure source.23
“He would call me on the telephone and we would talk for an hour,” said Dale Braun, who worked for Goodrich briefly to establish Indiana chapters of the Great Books Foundation. “We’d then talk again six months later and Pierre would quote me word for word what I had told him during our earlier conversation. I remember I had to be careful what I told him for fear he’d hold me to the letter of it months later.”24
John Kidder remembers when he was manager of the Ford dealership shortly after World War II in Goodrich’s hometown of Winchester. Because the war had consumed most of the country’s steel, cars for private use were extremely difficult to come by. One Monday morning, on Goodrich’s return to Indianapolis, he drove into the Ford dealership to purchase gasoline. He was driving a 1941 Lincoln Continental. “I told Pierre at the time that if he was ever interested in selling the car, I’d like to purchase it for the dealership,” said Kidder. “He didn’t say anything, just nodded his head. Six years later I got a letter from Pierre asking if I was still interested in buying the Lincoln.”25
Goodrich often addressed his employees by their last names. He believed that casual familiarity (referring to one another by first names) could result in the degeneration of a relationship.26 Nonetheless, he did not put himself on any pedestal. While he could dominate a conversation, he was generally a good listener and took an interest in most of his employees’ suggestions and opinions. Apparently, Goodrich’s intense curiosity was partially natural, but no doubt much of it was also deliberate. The reason for his inquisitiveness could be to gain the knowledge necessary for a more intelligent business decision or to explore the depth of thinking of the examinee, or possibly both.
“One day we were in Indianapolis at a meeting for the purpose of buying telephone equipment and Pierre had hired an expert to give us advice,” said Perce Goodrich, adding parenthetically, “If you were in a meeting with Pierre, something that would normally take an hour, might take half or even a full day. Finally, I said, ‘Pierre, you hire an expert to tell you what to do and then you second guess ’em and don’t take their advice.’ He said, ‘Let me tell you something, Perce, when you hire an expert you gotta check on them to see if they know what they’re talking about.’”27
No one impressed Pierre Goodrich on the basis of a job title or degrees. Goodrich had to be convinced that the person actually had the knowledge that he or she professed to have. Goodrich’s inquisitiveness became infectious. People who were around him would start to ask, “Is there another way?” and, “Would it be better to attempt it in this manner?”28 Goodrich would propose even more difficult and searching questions that had little to do with the business arena directly: Are human beings perfectible? Are they empty vessels? Are there moral absolutes or are morals relative? Who determines what is morally right? How is economic prosperity achieved and maintained? These questions were anxiety-producing to some because they challenged their belief systems and their very comfortable way of living. Moreover, Goodrich’s questions were not simply abstractions. He wanted to know why a person did something and why some other course of action was not preferable. That attitude led him to challenge the modern welfare state at a time (the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s) when belief in its virtues was at its zenith.
His probing nature extended into the process by which he hired employees. “Before Pierre Goodrich would hire a new person—and it didn’t make any difference what type of job—he would interview them personally and sometimes the interview would go on for hours,” said Rosanna Amos.29
When Goodrich interviewed an applicant for a top management position, the interview could last up to three successive days. Moreover, it was the exception, not the rule, that the questions had anything to do with the position that the applicant was seeking.
“I was interviewing for the chief financial officer’s position of the Indiana Telephone Corporation in August 1971,” said Alan Russell, now chairman of Liberty Fund. “I expected my first question to be on budgets or closings. But that wasn’t the first question. The first question from Pierre was what is the difference between a paramecium and an amoeba? I was able to tell him that they were both one cell animals and that they reproduced differently, but that was probably the closest I came in two days of answering any one of his questions.” Goodrich was trying to find out if the candidate had an inquiring mind and whether the candidate had a desire to learn or believed he already knew everything there was to know.30
The one encounter Martha Wharton of Indianapolis had with Goodrich in 1966 left an indelible impression upon her. She had come to his offices at 3520 Washington Boulevard to interview for what she had been initially told was a legal secretary’s position. For Wharton, the meeting was unforgettable.
As the interview unfolded, it became apparent that Mr. Goodrich was not really looking for a legal secretary after all, but rather for a more well-rounded generalist. I liked that, and warmed to the idea of working for such a fascinating personality. He rambled at length about all the different enterprises he was involved in, and I recall he seemed to be especially fond of discussing his coal mining interests. I grew up in the coal area of Southern Illinois, so was able to respond well enough to avoid looking like a dummy. I felt we were developing a good rapport.31
The rapport quickly deteriorated, however, when Wharton corrected Goodrich in his use of a word during a trial run at dictation. Convinced she had “cooked her goose,” she left the interview, not in intimidation or awe of the man, but “with a keen awareness that I had been in the presence of greatness.” (Much to her surprise, Wharton was offered the job by Goodrich, but she turned it down because it was below her salary expectations.)32
There was no doubt about it: Goodrich could be tough on employees. “He might accept a mistake once,” said Gilbert Snider, “but if you failed a second time that indicated a pattern to Mr. Goodrich. He couldn’t tolerate laziness. Human frailties were only accepted by Pierre in very limited amounts. He just overestimated his employees’ capabilities in relation to his own.”33 Rosanna Amos echoed Snider’s opinion: “Mr. Goodrich could lose interest in someone real fast if they did one thing that was stupid.”34
Thus, personal contact with Pierre Goodrich was often not pleasant. He could be demanding, self-centered, and pedantic to the point of boredom. It was not unusual for him to conduct his business activities without apparently thinking about the inconvenience that it might place on others who had to deal with him. For instance, monthly board meetings for the Eastern Indiana Telephone Company and Peoples Loan and Trust Company were held in Winchester on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively, to accommodate Goodrich’s Indianapolis work schedule, not anyone else’s.35 The meetings could go on into all hours of the night and start again early the next morning. He would often have food brought into the meetings so that the flow of the discussion would not be interrupted. One Christmas Eve, Goodrich continued a meeting well into the evening and apparently never gave any thought to the difficult position in which it placed employees with children.36 Goodrich simply did not place the same value on family and social activities as others did: He didn’t have a particularly close relationship with his only child, and he viewed most social gatherings as worthless because they were nonproductive.
In terms of demeanor, Goodrich was often dogmatic in expressing his point of view and unrelenting in prosecuting his case. He also possessed conflicting traits in temperament: a subtle shyness and a strong (at times, dominating) personality. In terms of self-reflection, neither James Goodrich nor Pierre Goodrich seemed to express inner feelings or motives. Seldom in the hundreds of letters of Pierre Goodrich’s I read or the numerous discussions I had with Pierre’s associates did I learn of any sharing of inner thoughts or feelings. Pierre Goodrich may have been a philosopher, but he was not a poet.
Moreover, Goodrich had an abiding, often unrealistic belief that reason either does or should control people’s behavior. He had difficulty appreciating that individuals often make decisions on the basis of emotional, and not purely rational, motives. For instance, he was convinced that customers of his Indiana bank, the Peoples Loan and Trust Company, did business with it because Peoples was one of the soundest and best-run small banks in the state. Yet former bank employee Ronald Medler insists that it was excellent service that attracted customers to the bank. Goodrich too often undervalued the human touch. “One thing I could never get Pierre to understand,” said Medler, “was the importance of customer service. Most customers don’t know who owns a bank or how well capitalized it is. But Pierre believed that people stayed at home and studied these things before they deposited their money. He didn’t appreciate how much service and a familiar face meant to keeping customers satisfied.”37
Goodrich also did not seem to appreciate fully how wealth and higher education offered opportunities that not everyone had access to. He sometimes attributed a person’s lack of success to weakness of will. He did not seem to realize that many individuals are not in a position to change their fortunes dramatically.38 Because of his brilliance and his advantages, Pierre Goodrich could at times overestimate the degree to which people are captains of their fate.39
Yet despite these shortcomings, according to dozens of people, Pierre Goodrich was the most remarkable person they had ever met. “I would describe Pierre Goodrich as a man who actually had ‘the vision of greatness,’” said Elton Trueblood, a well-known theologian who became a close friend of Goodrich’s through their work with the Great Books Foundation.40 Few that I interviewed would disagree with Trueblood’s assessment.
One evening in the early 1920s, Alice Miller Bly accidentally crossed paths with Pierre Goodrich, the town’s young new attorney, across from the old Winchester High School. Alice’s family was waiting for her to come home for dinner and had nearly given up. There was a thunderstorm, and it had been raining for quite some time when Alice finally trudged through the door, bedraggled. “Alice said that she and Pierre Goodrich had been out talking in the rain about literature and she couldn’t get away from him,” said Mary Johnson, Alice’s sister. “She had an umbrella and Pierre didn’t.”41
This seemingly trivial incident is indicative of the intense feeling that Goodrich had for ideas. He could become consumed with the need to share his insights and bring illumination to a conversation. In his desire to record ideas that he believed were important, Goodrich, in the late 1960s, hired a person to establish an “ideas file.” The duties were to read newspapers, magazines, and journals such as the New York Times, Barrons, the Chicago Tribune, Human Events, the Indianapolis Star, and the Indianapolis Press. The task was to clip any article found on such subjects as inflation, war, the Middle East, Lord Acton, gold and the gold standard, United States Supreme Court decisions, Social Security, espionage, legislating morality and its futility, Japanese internees, Calvin, Locke, Luther, Hegel, Plato, the virtues, and anything to do with Germany. Pierre Goodrich would often sit down with the person responsible for the ideas file along with several others to discuss for hours these ideas and the publications from which they came. The ideas files filled several large upright cabinets in Goodrich’s offices. Goodrich’s preoccupation with ideas knew no time limitations. Several persons I interviewed remarked, often with humor and sometimes with irritation, that he would call them in the middle of the night or would interrupt their dinner, seemingly oblivious of the time or the disruption.42
Goodrich was a classic perfectionist. He had an extremely difficult time reaching closure in almost everything he ever attempted—be it a conversation, a personal letter, a business meeting, writing a business document, or anything else (he made and remade his will eleven times between 1949 and 1969).43 He regarded almost each endeavor as unfinished, incomplete, and capable of being improved upon; many things he wrote were stamped “Draft Only.”
His painstaking manner exasperated almost everyone who had to work with him.44 “I think there was a driving force within him to seek the unobtainable,” said Arlene Metz, who sat through many lengthy meetings in the early 1960s taking dictation from Goodrich. “I don’t think he left one stone unturned. Regular hours didn’t mean anything to him. You worked until you got something done.”45
Goodrich’s drive for perfection carried over into his need to master his varied interests. When something piqued his curiosity, he would learn all about it. He was not content to dabble in something or simply become acquainted with its rudimentary elements. Rather, Pierre Goodrich would research his interests, consult experts about them, and discuss them in depth. He would not let go of an interest until he had mastered it. It did not matter whether the interest involved understanding the evils of inflation, the inner workings of telephone equipment, cooking, the origins and qualities of gemstones, Eastern mysticism, agriculture, or distinguishing the bouquets of fine German wines.46
Although he did not embrace organized religion to any great degree as an adult, he was a student of most of the great world religions. Many acquaintances commented on Goodrich’s vast knowledge of Greek Orthodoxy and Eastern mysticism, but he was equally knowledgeable about mainstream Christian faiths. When Goodrich arranged in 1972 to meet with John Waltz, a new Winchester town councilman at the time, one of the first things he wanted to know was Waltz’s church affiliation.
“When I told him I belonged to the Disciples of Christ Church,” said Waltz, “Pierre told me all about the history of the denomination, how the Disciples had evolved from earlier Christian denominations. His knowledge was amazing.”47
One year before Christmas in the 1930s, Goodrich studied the motions of galaxies and calculated what the sky must have looked like in the year of Christ’s birth. He then had Roy Barnes, a local Winchester artist and Goodrich company employee, design a Christmas card with the stars’ configuration on the cover. Goodrich had the card printed and sent to family members and friends.48 This is just one example of how fascinated he could become with an idea or concept once it piqued his curiosity.49
[1. ]Doris Lewis, telephone interview, March 1, 1993.
[2. ]Rosanna Amos, longtime secretary for Goodrich, told me how Goodrich felt after he had gone to the Indiana Telephone Corporation and seen all the technological changes that were being made. She explained that he told her what it was like in the 1930s when he first became involved with the company. She said that he was very sad about the elimination of the operators’ function as the source of information for the community (interview, December 10, 1991).
[3. ]What Goodrich discussed at his meetings with the employees and his follow-up thank-you letter is contained in the July 1971 ITC Highlights, a newsletter published by the Indiana Telephone Corporation. It contains more than a dozen pictures of Goodrich meeting with employees or touring the facility. Shortly after visiting the Seymour offices, Goodrich went to the ITC offices at Jasper, Indiana, and conducted a similar tour and meetings with the employees. Walter Seaton said that Goodrich talked a great deal about the Federalist papers, but apparently at the time none of the employees had any idea what they were (interview, January 16, 1993).
[4. ]Ruth Connolly, interview, October 25, 1991.
[5. ]Alan Russell said that once, in the early 1970s, when he drove Goodrich home after a board meeting, Goodrich decided he wanted to go to a competing telephone company’s switching station. He and Russell “crashed” the place, arriving unannounced, and were given a tour by the men who were on duty at the time (interview, July 2, 1994). When Goodrich attended a meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society in Kassel, Germany, in early September 1960, he visited the giant communications company Siemens and learned all he could about the latest telephone technology that the company had (Ruth Connolly, interview, October 25, 1991).
[6. ]Ruth Connolly did remember providing Goodrich and his wife Enid with a television on which to watch Neil Armstrong’s July 1969 moon landing. Shortly after that historic event, Goodrich also watched with considerable interest and apparently some satisfaction the critical scrutiny given to Senator Edward Kennedy as a result of the Chappaquiddick incident (interview, October 25, 1991).
[7. ]Ron Medler, interview, June 9, 1993.
[8. ]Frank Jessup, telephone interview, February 27, 1993.
[9. ]Telephone interviews: William Stimart, January 21, 1993; William Waldbeiser, January 15, 1993.
[10. ]Letter from Gerhart Niemeyer to author, November 10, 1992. (“It is a great pleasure that I think back to my association with Pierre Goodrich. I believe the pleasure was mutual. That could not be expected, for while Pierre Goodrich was an atheist, I was deeply committed to belief in Jesus Christ and his salvation. . . .”)
[11. ]In his paper “Why Liberty?” and in his letters and the Basic Memorandum, Goodrich constantly refers to an “infinite being.” As to his knowledge of Scripture, many people remember that Goodrich could quote chapter and verse. Gerhart Niemeyer, too, recalls that Goodrich was proud of his knowledge of Scripture (letter, November 10, 1992).
[12. ]Will Hays, Jr., interview, May 8, 1992.
[13. ]Interviews: Rosanna Amos, December 10, 1991; Irwin H. Reiss, June 26, 1996.
[14. ]Peter Garson, telephone interview, December 30, 1992. Dale Braun recalled that for years Goodrich had the periodical Human Events sent to him (interview, July 17, 1992). Paul Poirot wrote (letter, November 8, 1992) that Goodrich had literature from the Foundation for Economic Education, notably The Freeman, sent to several people.
[15. ]Richard Lugar, interview, October 29, 1992.
[16. ]Lilly admitted to Goodrich that he had had such mixed success confronting “the uncertain seas of philosophy” that “biography and history and some of the lesser humanities will, I am afraid, have to be my joy and solace.” Letter from Lilly to Goodrich, January 8, 1951, Frank Sparks Papers, Eli Lilly folder, Archives, Wabash College. Lilly wrote:
Dear Mr. Goodrich:
Thank you very much for your interesting list of great books and your questions about them. Your work in this field has borne important results and you have again been a public benefactor. Your service entitles you to every co-operation and as you will find enclosed the poor record of my cruises into the uncertain seas of philosophy. . . .
[17. ]Letter from Lord Acton to Bishop Creighton, dated April 5, 1887, Essays on Freedom and Power (Boston: Beacon Press, 1948), p. 364. Goodrich often repeated this sentence both in conversation and in his writings.
[18. ]Rosanna Amos kept a copy of the list. Visitors of Goodrich between 1970 and 1973 included William Casey, the former CIA director and campaign chairman to Ronald Reagan; former Indiana governor Edgar D. Whitcomb; former Indiana governor and United States secretary of health and human services Otis Bowen; congressmen Richard Roudebush and William Bray; columnists and academics Jeffrey Hart, Thomas Sowell, George Roche, Russell Kirk, John Chamberlain, and Karl Brandt (of Stanford University); publishers Henry Regnery and Eugene Pulliam, Sr. and Jr.; economist Milton Friedman; Leonard Read of the Foundation for Economic Education; and Charles Stabler of the Wall Street Journal.
[19. ]“When Mr. Goodrich returned from the hospital one time, he had me send letters and books to the nurses, because he had gotten into lengthy discussions with them about political philosophy,” said Rosanna Amos (interview, December 10, 1991).
[20. ]Edgar D. Whitcomb, interview, April 18, 1992. Whitcomb calls Goodrich’s telephone call to Regnery the major reason that Whitcomb’s manuscript was published.
[21. ]Letter from William Campbell to author, May 15, 1993.
[22. ]Victor Milione, telephone interview, October 19, 1992.
[23. ]Telephone interviews: Edmund Opitz, October 10, 1992; Elisabeth Luce Moore, October 9, 1992.
[24. ]Dale Braun, telephone interview, December 2, 1991. Goodrich’s extraordinary memory was mentioned by several persons interviewed.
[25. ]John Kidder, interview, October 10, 1993.
[26. ]Ruth Connolly, interview, October 25, 1991.
[27. ]Perce Goodrich, interview, November 9, 1992. Ralph Husted, a member of the Liberty Fund board of directors, had similar memories of Goodrich’s long-windedness at board meetings. Board meetings were called by Pierre Goodrich whenever he thought there was something to talk about. The meeting would start at about nine o’clock in the morning and would start by Pierre talking about the subject for which he had called the meeting. . . . So he would start talking. We would sit there and listen all morning. We would adjourn for lunch and Pierre would resume his discussion. It was a one-man discussion. About four o’clock in the evening, Helen Schultz would say, “Mr. Goodrich, we have an agenda.” Pierre would continue with his discussion. About five o’clock, Helen would say again, “Mr. Goodrich, we have an agenda,” and between Helen sitting on one side of him and Mrs. Goodrich sitting on the other, holding a watch, he finally yielded to the agenda and we would get through it in about five minutes. (Interview by William C. Dennis, June 12, 1990)
[28. ]Rosanna Amos, interview, December 10, 1991.
[29. ]Ibid. Professor Edward McLean mentioned that when he first met Goodrich, their meeting lasted for a couple of hours. Goodrich wanted to know what books McLean read, his personal philosophy, and so forth (interview, May 8, 1992). In considering new employees, one approach that Goodrich employed was to hire individuals on a part-time basis. “He was always curious to see if [a part-time employee] was someone he’d like to have in the office as a permanent employee,” said Rosanna Amos. “Mr. Goodrich would find an excuse to have this person do something especially for him, and then he’d sit and talk with them and ask them all kinds of questions. He wanted to know what you read, and why you read it, and what you thought about it” (interview, December 10, 1991).
[30. ]T. Alan Russell, interview, July 2, 1994.
[31. ]Letter from Martha Wharton to author, December 14, 1995.
[33. ]Gilbert Snider, interview, December 23, 1991.
[34. ]Rosanna Amos, interview, December 10, 1991.
[35. ]Interviews: Ralph Litschert, November 10, 1991; Don Welch, December 16, 1991. Anne C. Lawrason, a former Goodrich employee, wrote: “He [Goodrich] was just impossible at times, and we all felt like tearing our hair out. The infuriating part was that he never even realized how demanding and ridiculous he seemed to us. He could be extremely kind and caring, and I know he thought of his employees (at least, some of us) as his family” (letter to author, December 11, 1995).
[36. ]This point was mentioned to me three times in interviews: William Stimart, January 21, 1993; Arlene Metz, November 10, 1992; and Kenneth Sullivan, February 19, 1996.
[37. ]Ronald Medler, interview, June 9, 1993. That the financial operations of the bank were sound is apparently true, because Peoples never closed during the Depression and has had a good business record ever since. Goodrich saw to it that the bank had a loan-to-deposit ratio of about 25 percent, whereas most other banks had a loan-to-deposit ratio of 50 to 60 percent. Goodrich intentionally did this, according to Chris Talley, president of Peoples Loan and Trust Bank, because it ensured that the bank had adequate liquidity in case there was ever a run on the bank (interview, March 20, 1995).
[38. ]For instance, Ronald Medler said that Goodrich once remarked to him that he (Goodrich) couldn’t understand why a particular farmer didn’t invest more of his income back into his farm. Medler says that caused him to think that Goodrich didn’t realize how difficult it was for a working man to raise a family and pay a mortgage off on just one income (interview, June 9, 1993).
[39. ]Anne C. Lawrason, who worked with Goodrich daily as a secretary from 1970 to 1973, stated that Goodrich once remarked to her that he was a “self-made man.” He was apparently blind to many of the advantages (such as education, business knowledge, and financial inheritance) that he had received from his parents (interview, September 15, 1996). Goodrich often advised his employees to buy the best, whatever the product, because in the long run buying the best was the most cost-efficient. But, says Rosanna Amos, he did not seem to appreciate that not everyone could always afford to buy the best (interview, December 10, 1991). Goodrich was also strongly opposed to the extension of consumer credit. Generally speaking, a disdain for credit is laudable, even more so today than during Goodrich’s life. But Goodrich appeared not to understand that a young couple, for example, might need to purchase some goods on time. Ronald Medler, interview, June 9, 1993.
[40. ]Trueblood said this about Goodrich in both the telephone interview I had with him on December 12, 1991, and in a letter I received from him dated December 3, 1991. Trueblood wrote in part: “We both became involved in the Great Books Program because we were both convinced of the importance of what Professor [Alfred North] Whitehead called ‘the habitual vision of greatness.’ . . . I would describe Pierre Goodrich as a man who actually had ‘the vision of greatness.’” Whitehead’s complete statement is, “Moral education is impossible apart from the habitual vision of greatness.”
[41. ]Mary Johnson, interview, January 1, 1992.
[42. ]While Ben Rogge was on vacation playing golf in Alabama one summer day, Goodrich called Rogge off the course to discuss a matter that Pierre believed was of the utmost urgency, but they ended up discussing some philosophical point. This, unfortunately for business colleagues and friends alike, was not an isolated incident. Interviews with Edward McLean, May 8, 1992, and Perce G. Goodrich, November 9, 1992. Many interviewees, perhaps more than a dozen, recalled Goodrich’s lengthy late-night telephone calls.
[43. ]See Lou Hiner, “IRS Reviews Goodrich Tax,” Indianapolis News, May 18, 1978, p. 40, col. 1. According to the article, Goodrich prepared eleven wills between 1949 and his last one on March 3, 1969.
[44. ]Goodrich believed that sufficient reflection on problems could result in choosing the least imperfect option. This attitude can be readily seen in Goodrich’s behavior as a businessman and intellectual. The longevity of Goodrich’s business meetings is legendary; it was not uncommon for them to last an entire day or even longer. He would probe and explore nearly every conceivable avenue to ensure that he had as firm a grasp of the particulars as possible in order to make a wise business decision or to analyze the work of an employee or specialist. “He wanted all the details and you had [better] be well prepared,” said Richard H. Swallow, chief engineer of the Ayrshire Collieries Corporation for three decades (telephone interview, December 20, 1992).
[45. ]Arlene Metz, interview, November 10, 1992.
[46. ]Goodrich’s preoccupation with German wines is a good example of his tremendous curiosity. Helen Fletcher wrote:
[47. ]John Waltz, interview, March 6, 1993. Goodrich’s detailed knowledge of the Bible went all the way back to childhood. His mother taught a boys’ Sunday school class when Pierre was a youth, and he would spend hours studying the Bible in preparation for one of her lessons (Ronald Medler, interview, June 9, 1993).
[48. ]Roy Barnes, interview, February 8, 1992; James Emison, telephone interview, April 16, 1993. Emison, whose father was a law partner of Goodrich at the time, remembers receiving the card and hearing his father telling him how Pierre had designed its front.
[49. ]Another example of this behavior is when Goodrich became extremely interested in cooking during one European trip in the late 1950s. He subsequently returned to his Indianapolis home and filled his kitchen with expensive copper cooking pots and learned as much about the preparation of fine cuisine as he could (Ronald Medler, interview, June 9, 1993).