For more than 50 years, Northeast Ohio residents welcomed Goddard into their homes every night. His familiar face provided the weather forecast with care, context and a bit of levity.
“Weather is an educated guess at best and I’m a skeptic,” Goddard said.
Goddard was born in 1931 in Greenberg, now known as the city of Green in Summit County. He joined the Air Force and graduated from Kent State University in 1960 with a fine arts degree. He had dreams of becoming a cartoonist and even had an interview with Disney in California. But he couldn’t pass up an offer to try TV and landed a 13-week contract at Channel 3.
After a short stint in Philadelphia, Goddard joined the team at Channel 8. He liked that the station aired the Browns games. He’d later become a statistician for Browns radio broadcasts, keeping the position for 43 years.
Goddard’s legacy is bigger than a TV weatherman. He was a fierce animal advocate and his compassion for pets was instilled early by his parents.
“I promote animal welfare, that’s my goal,” he said. “And before I go to the theme park in the sky, I want to do all I can for the four-footers.”
Every Friday for nearly 30 years, Goddard featured pets from the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter on FOX 8 News. In 2015, he started the Dick Goddard APL Telethon. Each year, the event raises more than $130,000 for the animal shelter, which operates solely on donations.
One of his greatest accomplishments was the passage of House Bill 60, better known as Goddard’s Law. He spent five years lobbying state lawmakers to make the abuse or neglect of companion animals a fifth-degree felony. It was signed into law in 2016.
Only Goddard could turn a celebration for a caterpillar into Ohio’s largest one-day festival. He founded the Woollybear Festival in 1973. Goddard’s first festival was held in the small community of Birmingham and served as a fundraiser for a local school district. As the parade and the number of spectators grew, Woollybear needed a new home and made the move to Vermilion.
Goddard did everything with kindness, often offering playful wisdom, if you were in on the joke.
“Don’t ever think you know everything. The truly educated never graduate. Don’t forget that.”