Louise Goldsmith named Centre Wellington Citizen-of-the-Year

She came to the community reluctantly about 20 years ago, but Louise Goldsmith’s contributions since that move have earned her Citizen-of-the-Year honours.

She was nominated by several people for the annual honour, with Tommi Roden taking the lead.

She said Goldsmith volunteered with Groves Memorial Community Hospital Association, and then with the Volunteer Association there.

She did volunteer work at the Wellington County Museum for many years, “working with the school programs and helping on special days.”

Goldsmith is living at Wellington Terrace seniors’ home – and still volunteers. She teaches two art classes per week and has also helped feed of some residents.

“I can’t understand why all this is happening to me,” protested Goldsmith as she was showered with gifts and awards from the Chamber of Commerce delegation.

She said in an interview that she had not wanted to move to Fergus, but had been convinced to do so by friends. She agreed to stay for five years – and never left.

“It’s beautiful here. I feel everybody around me is my family. I have friends here [at the Terrace], and in Fergus, and in Elora.”

Roden wrote in her nomination, “Louise is an inspiration to those that know her and a marvelous example to all. Louse has won a Provincial Volunteer award and the time has come for Louise to be honoured by her own community for the love and service she has so freely given.

Mary Black Gallagher, the coordinator of volunteers at the Terrace, noted Goldsmith has four degrees through the Royal Academy of Dance, and owned and operated three dance studios in Toronto, as well as working in several places across Canada.

Black Gallagher said her other volunteer activities at the Terrace included helping in one of the dining rooms, and she “volunteered for this particular role every evening after finishing her own evening meal.”

Black Gallagher said Goldsmith had given over 600 hours in art classes and in visiting residents at the Terrace.

She added, “Though very active and completely alert, at the age of 98, Louise does experience some health challenges; it is important to note here that she does not dwell on those challenges in any way, and remains optimistic and cheerful … Louise is an inspiration to others.”

Centre Wellington resident Diane Barley wrote, “Her volunteer work in the CW community has been truly amazing over the years.”

Elizabeth Stinson, a neighbour of Goldsmith’s when she lived in a Fergus condo, wrote, “I do not know if others have referred to Louise’s leg amputations. I was with her through each of them. After the first leg was removed … she declared her intention to walk again – which she did – with her prosthesis and a cane. She was out of St. Joseph’s Rehab Centre ad back home in half the time patients usually take. She had practiced walking unrelentingly – and without complaining.”

Two years later she lost her other leg and again declared she would walk.

Stinson said, “Not once, throughout those years, did I hear Louise say ‘Why me?’ She was a paragon of courage.

Stinson said to this day Goldsmith still walks from her room to the dining area.

Susan Dunlop, the curator of the Wellington County Museum and Archives, said Goldsmith’s “participated in all levels of the education programs, from Dinosaurs to Ancient Egypt. She participated as well in all of the special events and festival days held at the museum. Her contributions to both those areas were invaluable.”

Retired OPP Inspector James Tree, of Belwood, has known Goldsmith since his childhood. He said Goldsmith devoted her life to ballet and was not only a teacher, but later in life, “an international adjudicator.”

He said, “Louise has always dedicated her life and time to worthwhile causes.”

During her business career she “found time to make many visits to nursing homes and hospitals, compassionately care about those less fortunate,” Tree said.

Barbara Ward added that Goldsmith is a liaison for residents with the Terrace staff, and also has a bird feeder in one of the courtyards and regularly supplies seeds for it. She donates proceeds from the sale of note cards made from her paintings to the entertainment fund at the Terrace.

Goldsmith was ambushed by the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce committee during a music recital at the Terrace on Monday.

She will be honoured at the Chamber’s annual awards banquet Awards of Excellence, which has the theme of Centre Wellington…It’s a Grand Cabaret. That event is on April 28.