Ursula Irene Anna Goldsmith, Ph.D.

Date of Birth

February 5, 1940

Date of Death

March 14, 2011

February 5th, 1940 – March 14th, 2011

A lifelong learner, a daughter’s best friend, a master gardener, and a lover of cats. She died suddenly of a massive coronary failure on 14 March 2011. Ursula Irene Anna Goldsmith, Ph.D., was the mother of Melissa Ursula Dawn Goldsmith and a postdoctoral student at Louisiana State University. Dr. Goldsmith was born on 5 February 1940, in Manchester, NH, the daughter of Ernest Frederick Goldsmith (Ernst Friedrich Goldschmidt, from Mainz, Germany) and Edith Irma Pistora (from Budapest, Hungary). She spent her childhood primarily in Collins, NY. From 1958 to 1961 she served in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and earned the rank of SP4 for her work in the U.S. and in Berlin/Bremerhaven, Germany. She earned the Good Conduct Medal, Service Ribbon, three citations, and the Cold War (Victory) Medal and Memorial Certificate.

She was also a member of the San Francisco Headquarters of the American Foreign Legion. Her college education began in the army with courses at the University of Maryland and the Sorbonne. After her service, she attended Hillyer College (University of Hartford) and then moved to Los Angeles. She graduated with honors from Pasadena City College and then attended UCLA, where in 1965 she graduated with a bachelor’s of arts degree in intellectual history. In 1974 she earned an Executive M.B.A. in business administration (real estate and accounting) from the same institution—all while working full time. For many years she worked in the private sector in West Los Angeles as a controller and system analyst for companies as diverse as the Rand Corporation, McDonnell Douglas, Medical Chemical Corporation, and Capitol Records. In 1980 she moved with her daughter to Santa Barbara and worked as part of an independent auditing team at UCSB during the Chancellor Robert Huttenback scandal. She suffered from depression as a result of losing her parents at a young age, growing up quickly, working too hard, removing herself from an abusive relationship, and then struggling as a single mother.

After recovering, Ursula began a highly productive academic career. She moved to Northampton, MA in 1992 and then to Baton Rouge, LA in 1995. In 1997 she earned a master’s degree in library and information science from LSU, which was followed by the Certificate in Advanced Studies in library and information science in 2001. She earned a Ph.D. in Vocational Education at the LSU School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development in 2002. Her dissertation was “Perceptions of Active Graduate Faculty at a Research Extensive University Regarding Electronic Submission of Theses and Dissertations (ETDs).” In 2006 she earned the master’s in liberal arts. Her autobiographical thesis was “Escape to Utopia: Mental Illness, Veterans, and Gowanda State Hospital (l946-1952).” Both are available online. She presented at the 2009 and 2010 ETD International Symposium, published a review in the Journal of College Student Development, and her work was cited in Technical Resources Quarterly and Portal: Libraries and the Academy. Through her tricoastal education, Dr. Goldsmith had many friends across the country. Although she had a most interesting life, she was a wonderful mother and one who was always willing to take time to smell and cultivate roses. Some of her own happiest Santa Barbara memories were reading the Santa Barbara Independent and the 1980s Santa Barbara News Press, shopping at Alpha Thrift Store, dancing and Dixieland on Sundays at the Olive Mill Bistro, people watching in Montecito, and walking Butterfly Beach. She is survived by one daughter, Melissa Goldsmith (a musicologist, librarian, and radio show host) of Thibodaux, LA, and many cats—all who miss and love her.

A private burial took place on 18 March 2011. She was buried at Port Hudson National Cemetery in Zachary, LA. Arrangements by Rabenhorst. Memorial donations in her honor may be made to the Santa Barbara Humane Society, the Arbor Day Foundation, or Heifer International.

Memorial celebration(s) of her life will take place in the near future.


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