Longtime Cleveland TV meteorologist Dick Goddard passed away Tuesday morning. He was 89 years old.
Goddard tested positive for COVID-19 in June.
Goddard gave his final signoff in November 2016, while surrounded by colleagues at WJW-TV, a company he started working for in 1966.
"What he displayed on the air is exactly the kind of person that he was. There was nothing fake about him. And of course he was an incredible meteorologist," said former WJW General Manager Virgil Dominic. "He's one of the greatest guys I've ever known, not only as a colleague, but as a friend. I love him."
Goddard’s television career began in 1961 at what is now WKYC-TV in Cleveland. He holds the Guinness World Record for the longest career as a weather forecaster.
"I think Dick would say that there wasn't a day that he came to work that he did not really look forward to coming to work," Dominic said. "Especially in times of tornadoes or dangerous weather, you could really tell that he cared. He really was concerned about the welfare of the viewers."
The local TV icon was a native son of Northeast Ohio. Goddard grew up in the Akron suburb of Green. He served in the United States Air Force and graduated from Kent State University.
“People just identified with Dick. They considered him much like themselves. They didn’t so much look upon him as a celebrity so to speak, but as the neighbor next door," Dominic said.
Goddard was never short of wit in his half of a century of forecasts.
"You know why cannibals never eat clowns?" Goddard asked a co-anchor on a 2010 Fox 8 News newscast. "They taste funny."
That Dick Goddard wit shined through in the books he wrote – one of them titled "Six Inches of Partly Cloudy."
He also made the occasional appearance on the WJW produced comedy show "Big Chuck and Little John."
Dick Goddard in 1975. [The Cleveland Press Collection]
In addition to his comedic charm, Goddard was caring. That was perhaps most evident as he advocated for what he so often referred to as "the four-foots" — pets. He was a longtime supporter of pet adoption and pet safety. He pushed lawmakers to strengthen the penalties for animal cruelty. When such a bill was passed in Ohio in 2016, it became known as Goddard's Law.
"You wouldn't be into any conversation for any length of time before the subject of pets would come up," Dominic said.
Including when Goddard appeared on ideastream’s Sound of Ideas in 2011 on 90.3 WCPN.
“If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I’ve known will go to heaven, but very few people," Goddard joked.
Goddard was fascinated with woolly bears – the fuzzy black-and-orange caterpillars that eventually become the isabella tiger moth. It’s believed that the hair on woolly bears predicts the severity of the coming winder. His love for the creatures lead to the creation of the annual Woolley Bear Festival in Vermillion, which Goddard helped create in 1973 and now bears his name.
He volunteered for festivals, stood up for animals and was always willing to give out a woolly bear sticker.
As much as Cleveland loved Goddard, he loved Cleveland back.
As he said on his final WJW appearance: “I’ve been so lucky. People have been so good to me being a weatherman. And to be treated the way they treated me, I can’t be happier.”