Grant K. Goodman died peacefully in his sleep at Brandon Woods at Alvamar, on the evening of Sunday, April 6, after a year of many ups and downs in his brief battle against lung cancer.
Grant was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1924. His interest in Asia started in his childhood, when he became an avid stamp collector and thus learned to take Manchukuo seriously; and when he became a voracious reader and learned early on about the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and Japan’s invasion of China. His parents nurtured these interests and, by age seven, Grant was on his way as a budding Asianist.
By the time he graduated from high school, Grant was eager to seriously pursue Asian Studies. By then, World War II had begun. In the fall of 1942, he commenced his freshman year at Princeton—where he subsequently applied for and was accepted by the U.S. Army Intensive Japanese Language School for Military Intelligence.
In May of 1944, Grant was a Technical Specialist 5, ready for another six months of advanced military Japanese language training. Commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Military Intelligence Service in May of 1945, he arrived in the Philippines. Initially he interrogated Japanese prisoners and eventually assisted in the translation of the Japanese Order of Battle as well as the Japanese surrender terms delivered to General Douglas MacArthur’s GHQ in Manila.
On October 1, 1945, Grant landed in Yokohama. He served in Tokyo in the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander Allied Powers until shortly before his discharge in October of 1946. He received his B.A. from Princeton University‘s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1948, his M.A. in Far Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan in 1949, and his Ph.D. in Japanese History in 1955 from the University of Michigan.
Grant’s arrival at the University of Kansas in 1962 was one of several key appointments that saw Asian Studies develop rapidly through the 1960s with considerable support from the Ford Foundation and later on, the Federal Government through its National Defense Education Act. These young KU Asianists managed to put KU’s program on the map in a very short time through their own individual achievements and the University’s support. Grant’s contributions as eventual Co-Director of the East Asian Center with Prof. Felix Moos were immense. He traveled extensively and established many academic connections that proved indispensable to the Center. All the while, he continued to be a prolific writer and presenter of papers at a great many regional, national, and international meetings.
Grant has authored nine books (including two memoirs), edited or co-edited eight books, and published over 45 articles. In his long, highly productive career as a truly international scholar, he has been awarded many professional fellowships and grants by such organizations as the Netherlands Institute for Advance Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Mid American State Universities Association, Japan Foundation, Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays, American Council of Learned Soeieties, and the Sumitomo Foundation. Besides English, he spoke Dutch, French, Spanish and Japanese fluently. His many travels took him as a visiting professor to the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, England, Ireland, Poland, and Germany.
Grant K. Goodman retired from the University of Kansas in 1984. His collected papers and notes are in the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, but his personal papers are in the University Archive, Spencer Library, University of Kansas. After his retirement, he was active in Lawrence for many years with the Douglas County Senior Center; was a strong supporter of the KU School of Music and the KU Hall Center for the Humanities; and a fierce advocate for KU retirees through the Endacott Society at the KU Alumni Center. Finally, Grant was a tireless promoter of theatre and new plays by Kansas playwrights by single-handedly funding the award-winning English Alternative Theatre (EAT) for over 20 years through the work of KU English Prof. Paul Stephen Lim, his lifelong friend, until Lim’s own retirement in 2010.
When his illness took a sudden turn for the worse three weeks ago, Grant was in the midst of planning a big celebration for what would have been his 90th birthday in October. It was then his final wish that this birthday party should be held as his memorial service in the event of his death. Grant K. Goodman is survived by a younger brother, David, and his wife Helen, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Private inurnment services at KU’s Pioneer Cemetery are being arranged by Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home for the immediate family and a small group of friends. Donations can be made directly to the KU Endowment Association (PO Box 928, Lawrence, KS 66044) in honor of Grant K. Goodman, designated for either the Endacott Society, or for the Annual Grant K. Goodman Distinguished Lecture in Japanese Studies in the KU Center for East Asian Studies.