BY ANDY BAGGOT
MADISON, Wis. — Bob and Irwin Goodman were brothers, gentlemen, businessmen and philanthropists whose legacy will likely outlive us all.
If you’ve put down roots in the Madison area for any reasonable length of time, chances are you benefitted from their massive, yet quiet, selflessness.
They lived frugally, invested wisely and steered their fortune — by way of the private non-profit Goodman Community Foundation — toward people, projects and causes they loved. Bob and Irwin were about libraries, education, physical and mental wellness, nutrition and racial harmony.
John Hayes, who began working for the Goodmans as a salesman at their jewelry store on State Street in the early 1980s, explained the essence of their affection.
“They were in love with this city,” Hayes said. “Neither one married, but they had a love for the city like you’d love your spouse.”
The love the brothers had for the Madison area was intense and genuine, in part because they had no heirs. E.G. Schramka, a local attorney who serves as the executive director of the foundation, said $70 million has been dispensed over the lifetime of the organization. He said the range of their grants was from $1,000 to $10 million.
“It’s immeasurable the number of people that have been impacted by their giving and the foundation’s giving,” Schramka said.
Hayes said the Goodman brothers were definitely not headline-seekers.
“They did it not for notoriety or publicity,” Hayes said. “They did it because they saw something that needed to be done and took care of it. They figured out a way to make it happen
“They didn’t forget anybody. It didn’t matter what your position in society was. Everybody was equal.”
Irwin died in 2009. Bob passed away in 2010.
“Two of the kindest, most understated gentlemen you could meet,” Hayes said.
Bob and Irwin were born in Minneapolis, but they moved to Madison after Irwin, a discus-throwing track athlete at Minnesota, came…