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Editor’s note: The following memorial to Marcus Goodman was written by his girlfriend, Adrianna Layne, in consultation with Goodman’s parents, Rebeca Arbona and Jeff Goodman.
When asked to describe Marcus Goodman, a UChicago third-year who passed away on September 27, many people talk about the same things: He was a good person, kind and tender-hearted, and he always had a smile on his face. He never failed to be the silliest person in the room or to be there when people needed him. As a former housemate in Shorey House, Afsanneh Amleshi, fourth-year, put it, “He was one of those rare people who said thank you every time at the end of class to the professor. Marcus and all his warmth, fun, and kindness is really missed.” Marcus was the kind of person who waved to strangers, who always dropped by the International House front desk to ask how the staff’s day was going, would walk across campus to deliver a Pret chocolate croissant and a hug if he knew someone was sad.
But one thing few people mention, something only his mom and me, his girlfriend, have the heart to say is that Marcus Jacob Goodman had bad taste. During his mother Rebeca’s speech at his funeral, we pieced together that he was bad at picking things out because he saw value in everything and everyone. To him everything was pretty, and everything had value, and he didn’t discern against people or things because he loved it all. Marcus Goodman loved just about everything that wasn’t a tomato, pineapple, or eggplant.
So this memorial is a journey through some of the things he loved most.
Marcus loved his family. He was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, but his family comes from all over. His mother is Puerto Rican and so his family is split between there, New York, and many other places. In order to stay connected they had two weekly Zoom calls (on Wednesdays and Sundays) that he always made sure to build time in his busy course schedule to attend. There, he’d try to help his Aba with her laptop, while also frequently forgetting to take his own computer off mute. In these calls he’d catch up with his parents and grandparents and his older sister, Sofia, and they’d talk about anything and everything: social events, his decision to drop the Chemistry major for Computer Science, how he missed his cats but was having a good time in class.
Marcus and his elder sister, Sofia, are four years apart: The week he graduated high school, she graduated college. They were always close, and before he returned to school for the autumn 2021 quarter, he visited her in Texas, where they went rock climbing, dealt with broken down cars, and went on multiple adventures to try to find somewhere to swim. He loved every minute of their time together and he loved her and the rest of his family a lot.
Marcus and his sister Sofia the week of their graduations. He was graduating from high school and she from college.
Marcus was fondly called the cat whisperer by those who knew him best. His family’s three cats, Kala, Mako, and Reggie, were a highlight of visits home. As his mom put it, “Marcus never met a cat he didn’t like. He loved every cat he ever met and his own cat Kala times 1,000.” At the beginning of September, we stayed in an Airbnb in Virginia where we found three kittens living under the porch. For a week, he nurtured them, because Marcus never met a cat that he didn’t instantly fall in love with.
It feels silly to say he loved food, because everyone loves food, but Marcus’s relationship to the food was special. He would mix together a bunch of random ingredients he liked and call it a meal, even if the combination would turn anyone else’s stomach. His dad is the chef of the household and Marcus had recently started learning how to cook. His favorite food of all time was sushi, but when he was in Hyde Park, he loved to eat at Strings Ramen and Seoul Taco. He had one or the other at least once a week. He could almost always be found snacking on wasabi peas or seaweed, and was Shorey House’s unofficial seaweed dealer. He loved to try new things: he grew up with a family saying that trying something new adds a day to your life. He was always getting people to try new foods and activities, because he loved to share the things he was passionate about.
Marcus also loved music. He had a playlist that he used for everything that he titled “Would Listen to Again.” His best friend Christian Dixon, third-year, told me that he’s been listening to the playlist a lot lately: “It’s nice to imagine him jamming out to it while listening. Marcus couldn’t dance and he couldn’t carry a tune, even though he played trumpet in high school, but he loved to dance and sang anyway. He was goofy and happy and his dancing put a smile on his and everyone else’s faces.
Marcus loved being outdoors. In high school, he ran cross country and played frisbee and he continued going on regular runs while at UChicago. He spent a lot of time in the Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park, especially in warm weather. He always found time to just be outdoors or do his homework outside when the weather was right. He didn’t like the cold though, and year-round could be spotted travelling with a fuzzy black blanket.
One of the things he loved most was his house at UChicago, Shorey. That’s where we met, and also where he met his best friend, Christian, as well as his family away from home. His resident head Natasha said, “He was part of the house. Even during the Zoom year, everyone knew him because he was at every meeting and always around, if he wasn’t there it felt weird. This year I decorated the lounge with pictures of house events to show people what the house was like before Zoom, and he’s in every picture.” He participated in every house activity, from karaoke to field trips, and even ran house movie nights. His housemate Elizabeth Singer said, “everyone in the house loved him because he was generous, sweet, kind, wise, compassionate, understanding, and affectionate. (Marcus was) a really beloved person that made every event or evening in the lounge brighter.”
On September 25, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry and wandered around the Marvel exhibit for what would turn out to be our last date. I always brought him out to things I wanted to see, because he didn’t care what we were doing. He just wanted to spend time with those he cared about. In turn, Marcus reminded me that it’s important to relax, and take breaks, and be kind to myself.
On September 26, Marcus spent the day meeting new people in Shorey, having lunch and helping them fix the projector for another house movie, and he had a great day. Shorey House was a source of so much joy for Marcus at UChicago. It’s where he played Just Dance in the lounge into the late hours of the night, and where he drank too much coffee to stay up and do homework. It’s where he and Chirstian binge-watched television every week. We had our first kiss in the I-House study rooms, and a few days later he finally got the courage to ask me out, with a little push from everyone else in the house. At Shorey and in I-House, Marcus built a home of people he loved.
On Monday, September 27, Marcus Jacob Goodman took his own life. The people I’ve spoken with who loved Marcus saw no signs that he was suicidal. To me, Marcus’s death was a reminder that everyone faces their own struggles. I want to tell readers that it's important to reach out when you need help.
On Thursday, the University held a reception at International House. Marcus’s teachers and classmates came, alongside Shoreyites across years and people who had met him once but on whom he made an impression. He would have loved it. There was tons of food, and some friends even brought wasabi peas. On Sunday October 3, at his funeral, over 400 people came to show him and his family love and support, with many more joining online.
Because while Marcus Goodman did love everything, he also was really loved in return.
For more stories about Marcus visit the tribute wall on his obituary: https://www.weilkahnfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Marcus-Goodman/#!/TributeWall
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