October 20, 1024 – April 10, 2023
Born in Vandalia, Mo., in 1924, Verda Mae Goodman was the daughter of Ola NeVerda Goodman and Augusta Renner Goodman. She grew up during the Great Depression on the family farm with no electricity or plumbing. After high school, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps of the U.S. Army. She went to basic training at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., and was assigned to O’Reilly General Hospital, Springfield, Mo., as a medical secretary to the chief of plastic surgery. Later, she served at hospital headquarters as the secretary to brigadier general, commandant of the hospital. She was discharged at Camp Beale, Calif., in 1946. Her awards and medals include the World War II Victory Medal.
After the war, Verda went to college on the GI Bill earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from the University of Missouri and her master’s degree in social work at the University of Kansas. While in college, she met the man who would become her loving husband of 73 years, Irwin Deutscher. The couple married in 1950 and were early civil rights activists. As members of NAACP and The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, they organized campus protests for racial equality and participated in lunchroom sit-ins in the then segregated cities of Columbia and Kansas City, Mo.
After graduation, Verda Mae was a faculty member of Stephens College in Columbia, Mo.
During the 1960s, Verda demonstrated against the Vietnam War and housed international students from India, Cuba Great Britain, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Cameroon, studying at Syracuse University, serving as their mentor and surrogate family.
During the 1970s, Verda worked as a medical social worker at Highland View Hospital and Margaret Wagner House, and volunteered at the Free Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. A life-long feminist, she organized local women’s consciousness-raising groups focusing on gender equality and reproductive rights.
In the 1980s, she worked in Washington, D.C., as a lobbyist for the National Association of University Women educating lawmakers on issues impacting women and families. She volunteered at Meridian International Center helping to strengthen engagement between the U.S. and the world by providing tours of Washington, D.C. to international visitors.
During the 1990s, she worked for the Clinton administration as a volunteer in the White House correspondence office. She also served as an information specialist at the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution.
During the 2000s, she continued her community and philanthropic work as a member of the National Women’s Democratic Club and a funder of Democratic campaigns and causes.
Into the 2010s and beyond, in keeping with her generous nature, she remained active in many national and international philanthropic organizations that support women’s rights, reproductive freedom, and social justice.
She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Susanna Randolph Chapter in Vandalia, Mo., and was honored in May of 2012 as the Missouri State DAR Patriot of the Month.
She cared deeply about people and gave vigorously of herself to benefit others. She was a tireless correspondent who never forgot a birthday, anniversary, or holiday.
She will be missed by her husband, Irwin Deutscher, her daughters and sons-in-law Sara and Forrest Earl and Martha Deutscher and Stephen Zvolensky, and grandchildren Elijah Earl, Caleb Earl and his wife Katie Wick Earl. In Missouri, she will be missed by her close family members Carol and Raymond McDonald, Valerie and Ray Rucker and Rennie and Joy Davis, along with extended family and many friends.
Verda will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. Donations in Verda’s memory can be made to “Emily’s List” which support women running for political office, or a charity of your choice which supports women.