Sylvia Block Goodman

Thanks to Nina Karp, who submitted this post about her grandmother, Sylvia Block Goodman, b 1917.


The picture is marked “BI [Beth Israel] Hospital, Spring 1938, Bacteriology Lab”. It was taken during a 15-month training program for laboratory technicians. After that she worked as a clinical laboratory technician at Beth Israel, doing mostly hematology.  She was married in 1942 and then worked for a private physician as an x-ray technician.

In 1945 she became pregnant with my mother, and as she said, “that was the end of that.” But when my mother and her sister were in school, she went back to doing temporary lab work. As her children grew, she earned her bachelor’s degree and M.Ed., and began a 25-year career teaching biology at Lasell College.  After she retired in 1989, she was a longtime volunteer at the Boston Museum of Science, where she worked at the Human Body exhibit.


My image of a grandma was never of a flowery-apron’d woman gardening and baking cookies. My grandma lived in an apartment building and taught science!  I remember visiting her at her lab at the college. Once I was looking for something to bring in for show and tell; she let me borrow a full cat skeleton. I was and am a lucky girl.


I’m including a picture of us at her 90th birthday bash in 2007, and one with her namesake newborn great-grandson (my son) in 2009.   I’m grateful to say that at age 96 she is still going strong, sharp as a tack, and delightful company.

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2 Responses to Sylvia Block Goodman

  1. Sharon Burkett says:

    I second the could-not-be-prouder sentiment! I have always thought if someone could pick a grandparent, friend, or all-around good example of a person she is exactly the person I’d pick.

  2. Michael Karp says:

    For a number of years now, almost every Sunday a remarkable thing has happened in our house. My son-in-law Edward and I (recently joined by his young son Theo) sit down for a late breakfast with Sylvia and three generations of her progeny: my wife Sheila – Sylvia’s daughter, my wife and best friend, and a quietly remarkable woman in her own right; our oldest daughter Sharon (at whose wedding Sylvia was the matron of honor, and the person whom I often think of as being the most reliable and kindest person I have ever known); and Sharon’s twin daughters Ellie and Natalie (whom I’m quite sure are the most beautiful). On the best of those occasions we are joined by my other daughter Nina and her family, who add their own very special brilliance to the mix.

    Sylvia Block Goodman played a major role in raising all of them, and the interplay between them clearly shows the common thread running through . Most of the time Ed and I sit there quietly and admire four generations of “the Block women”, and count ourselves among the most fortunate of men.

    I once thought that the most wonderful thing about Sylvia was the fact that she, on several occasions, had lunch with Albert Einstein. But I was wrong. The most wonderful thing about her is the legacy that she has created, passed down from mother to daughter, that will continue for generations to come.

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