July 15, 2010
Eugene J. "Gene" Goodreault, a former All-America football player at Boston College and a member of the school's storied 1941 Sugar Bowl championship team, died on July 13 in Orinda, Calif. after a long illness. He was 92.
Mr. Goodreault was a consensus All-America end for Coach Frank Leahy's Eagles in the 1940 season, an era when the Eagles were one of the nation's top-ranked college football teams. In 1970, he was one of the original inductees into Boston College's Varsity Club Hall of Fame, and was elected to the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame in 1982.
In 2001, the 60th anniversary of BC's Sugar Bowl championship, Boston College officials retired Mr. Goodreault's football jersey in a halftime ceremony during a game at the school's Alumni Stadium.
In addition to playing a key role for BC's undefeated Sugar Bowl champions, Mr. Goodreault earned All-East honors during the 1939 season when he helped Leahy's team earn a spot in the 1940 Cotton Bowl - BC's first bowl appearance. As a senior, Mr. Goodreault was the inaugural winner of the George "Bulger" Lowe Award as the top college football player in New England.
After completing his collegiate career, Mr. Goodreault was drafted by the National Football League's Detroit Lions, but he bypassed a professional sports career to serve as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Following his military service, Mr. Goodreault returned to his native Haverhill, where he founded a successful wool brokerage company, representing a number of international firms to clothing manufacturers in the Boston area. He lived in the Bradford section of Haverhill until moving to California six years ago.
Mr. Goodreault's son, E. Joseph Goodreault, Jr., said that his father suffered from a speech impediment as a young man, but when he enrolled at Boston College he was befriended by William H. "Billy" Sullivan, then BC's sports information director - and later the founder and owner of the Boston Patriots - who helped him to obtain therapy to overcome his speaking handicap.
"He just appreciated everything about his life and never complained," Mr. Goodreault, Jr. said. "He was very humble. No one ever knew that he was an All-American football player. He never tried to promote his accomplishments to his family or others.
"He was a fine representative of his generation, Boston College and his hometown of Haverhill," his son said. "Gene loved the phrase `Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful' and he lived by those words."
Mr. Goodreault was the husband of the late Margaret Goodreault, who died in 1989. He is survived by his son and his wife Genie of Orinda, Calif. and his daughter-in-law Kathy Owens of Bradford; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was also the step-father of the late Jim Owens, grandfather of the late John Owens and brother of the late Irene Carrington.
A memorial service for Mr. Goodreault will be held in California later this month. A Mass and memorial service at Sacred Hearts Church in Bradford will be scheduled at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.