Gary David Goldberg is shown in this file photo during an appearance on the NBC “Today” show in 2008.
ARLINGTON — For the residents of Arlington, Gary David Goldberg, creator of “Family Ties” and “Spin City” who died Saturday, wasn’t just a Hollywood artist, he was also a neighbor and basketball player.
Goldberg, 68, was a resident of California but owned a home in Arlington since 1987.
Mary Ann Carlson, former owner of the West Mountain Inn in Arlington, knew Goldberg because she and his wife, Diana Meehan, had been classmates at a school in California. When she first met him, she said she knew he was the creator of “Family Ties,” which was a new show at the time, but hadn’t seen it because as an innkeeper, she and her husband, Wes Carlson, were busy in the evening.
After visiting the Carlsons in Arlington, Wes Carlson helped them find a place in town.
“They really made it a home for themselves when they were in this part of the world,” she said.
Carlson said the friendship between Goldberg and her husband was strong and it led to an honor for Wes Carlson, who died in 2000.
Donations that built a performing arts center at Arlington Memorial High School came primarily from Mack Molding, an Arlington manufacturer, and Goldberg and Meehan. The building, which opened in 2007, is named the Mack Performing Arts Center and Wes Carlson Studio for Dance and Theater.
Carlson said Goldberg hadn’t told her he planned to name the project after her husband, a former teacher and educator.
However, those who knew Goldberg locally said that was typical of him. In Arlington, he was willing to help out but never wanted to take credit for it, they said.
Jamie Paustian, chief of the Arlington Fire Department, said he had always been good to the volunteer fire department.
“When we would have our carnival, he would often help us out financially. If we needed some equipment that we couldn’t necessarily afford, like our brush truck, he donated a good sum of money toward our brush truck,” he said.
Paustian said Goldberg would sometimes invite the firefighters to his home to play basketball, a passion which led to other local contributions. Because he often played basketball at the high school, he became friendly with Joseph Corey, who coached basketball there for 16 years. Corey’s brother Jim, who retired as one of the high school’s teachers this year, said he and his brother also used to join the pick-up games at Goldberg’s home.
When Joseph Corey died in 2002, Goldberg set up the Joseph Corey Memorial Scholarship at the school which awarded $5,000 each to one male and one female graduating student who described in an essay the importance of athletics. Jim Corey said he and his family appreciated the tribute to Joseph and his contribution to athletics at the high school.
Kerry Csizmesia, who was principal of the high school at the time of the performing arts center project, said he had received word through Gene Hoyt, the caretaker of Goldberg’s Arlington home, that Goldberg would be willing to contribute to a project that Csizmesia “wanted to see happen.” He said Goldberg’s contribution, along with the one from Mack, allowed the center to be built but also pointed out that Goldberg insisted it be named for his friend.
Goldberg was also involved in one of Vermont’s most prominent weddings. Michael J. Fox, who reportedly became a friend of Goldberg’s when they worked on “Family Ties” and “Spin City” together, got married at the West Mountain Inn in 1988.
Carlson said she wouldn’t describe it as the most famous event that took place at the inn, which is now owned by her daughter Amie, but said it was the “most we had helicopters circling the inn.”
Goldberg himself acknowledged his love of Vermont. At the opening of the performing arts center in 2007, Goldberg told the audience that Arlington had become his “first home,” even though he conceded he still paid taxes in California.
“The dogs, more importantly, the dogs are licensed here,” he said to applause from the audience.
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