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Office of Trusts, Estates, and Gift Planning
Cornell University
130 E Seneca Street, Suite 400
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 1-800-481-1865
Fax: 607-254-1204


Laura Good ’56: A Lifetime of Giving

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Describing herself as a “junior” philanthropist, Laura Good ’56 has made a gift to Cornell nearly every year since 1958 (skipping only 1959, 1964, and 1965, according to university records).

“I always wanted to pay back my scholarship,” explains Good, who has by now done so many times over. “Tuition was $700 and I think room and board was $450, or maybe it was $900. In any case, I had a full-tuition scholarship. When my son cleared out my mother’s attic,” she recalls, “he found my box of stuff labeled ‘$8,000 education.’ ”

Good was a physics major at Cornell, one of only two women in the major, although “there weren't a lot of guys either,” she points out. After graduation she went directly to work for General Electric, which had a physics training program that required frequent moves. After rotating through several cities in the Northeast, she found herself back in Ithaca, where she met her husband.

“Changing diapers and physics is not really consistent,” Good says. She and her husband had two children, Marian and James L. Good III ’85.  As she was raising her young children, Good took computer classes at a local community college, then moved west and earned a master’s degree in computer science from San Jose State, eventually landing at Intel where she worked until her retirement.

With fond memories of her involvement with Cornell United Religious Work (she’s a Unitarian), Good has directed much of her giving to student life. “As time went on,” she says, “I shifted my annual giving and half goes to Arts and Sciences and the other half to Gannet to pay medical visit co-pays for students who can’t afford it.” She has made additional gifts to support Cornell Tradition, established charitable annuities that will support undergraduate research scholarships in arts and sciences and human ecology, and she has made a bequest for Cornell in her estate plan.

She also remained in touch with the woman who’d inspired her decision to come to Cornell, her mother’s friend Katherine (Kay) Duddy Smith ’21.

“We sat down when she was 90 and she told me she wanted something for students who were maxed-out [paying for school] so they could go to the theater, concerts, and museums. I told her what I wanted was jobs for students who weren’t totally needy,” Good recalls, explaining her belief that paid work experiences are crucial for all students, even those who don’t qualify for work study.

Good fulfilled both her own and Smith’s philanthropic ambitions by creating the Katherine Duddy Smith ’21 memorial fund at Human Ecology in 1998.

“My brother got in touch with Kay’s granddaughter,” Good says, “because we thought that someone in her family should know. Her granddaughter said it was just what her grandmother would have wanted.”

Good’s own granddaughter, Eleanor Good, will be arriving in Ithaca as a Cornell freshman at the ILR School in the fall.