Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 82, page(s) 715-717

OBITUARY SKETCH OF GOODWIN STODDARD

GOODWIN STODDARD was born at Seymour in this State on April 2d, 1847. His family early moved to Milford, and from there, after showing marked capacity in his studies, he went at fifteen years of age to Freehold, New Jersey, to teach school. He soon enlisted in the navy, and on the Gettysburg saw service in the Gulf of Mexico and at the siege of Vicksburg. He was honorably discharged July 10th, 1864. Taking up at once the study of the law, as had long been his ambition, he was graduated from the Albany Law School in 1867. In January, 1868, before he was yet twenty-one years of age, he passed his examination for admission to the bar, and soon thereafter opened an office in the Franklin Building, Bridgeport, to which he returned some years before his death, having spent his entire professional life in that city. In 1873 he represented his town in the House of Representatives, - one of the youngest men who ever sat in that body - and while there was a member of the Judiciary Committee.

And so, having served his country in the navy, his State in the legislature, his city in faultless citizenship, his clients in wisest service, his family in loving care, and his friends in countless offices of kindness, with a cheerful fortitude which months of failing power could not diminish, on July 26th, 1909, he entered into rest.

Those who remember him in the early days of his professional career realize that the innate courtesy of character, the methods of work and the type of mind which he then exhibited, inevitably led straight upward, and could not have been denied supremacy. No one in his county stood higher in the profession, and few, if any, in the State. He was conspicuously a gentleman. Always considerate and thoughtful, none of his associates can remember an unkind word or selfish act in all his life. He came nearest to harshness when condemning lack of courtesy in others. He held high ideals of honor which he never departed from, and probably did more by his example to maintain the standard of the bar in that respect than any of its committees have accomplished by their presentments. No opponent was ever known to complain of the unfairness of his methods, nor did any of the countless witnesses, from whom with matchless skill he had extracted evidence against their wishes, remember him otherwise than as a persistent but courteous examiner. He might be too busy to take new employment, but always had time to help a troubled brother lawyer. He was as attractive in his private life as he was eminent in his profession, and died without an enemy.

In the management of matters committed to his care, he was painstaking and conservative. He trusted much to preparatory work and little to inspiration. He generally knew as much about the authorities on the other side as on his own, and when his argument was finished the court had the whole case before it. He did not excel in that most dangerous of all a lawyer's gifts - eloquence in advocacy - but possessed capacity for marked clearness of statement, and never mistook the controlling features of his task.

His unusual ability was evidenced by the great importance of the matters intrusted to his care, and even more unmistakably by the fact that his fellow-lawyers so frequently associated him in their causes. He was a wise counselor, a shrewd trier, and a great examiner of witnesses. His sound business advice accounts for not a few revived and now prosperous enterprises, and his office triumphs are probably as great as those associated with his name in court. He was a born lawyer, with an unerring instinct for the main road, a sure detection of useless byways, however tempting, and an admirable judgment as to worth-while goals. If favorable decisions are complimentary, the Connecticut Reports are filled with his praise. He loved his profession, devoted his time and talents - save for his family and friends - unreservedly to it, kept pace with its progress, and probably sacrificed himself upon its altar. He rests from labors all too soon completed and his works do follow him. The Connecticut Bar is, and long must be, better for Goodwin Stoddard's sojourn in its membership, and few of us would care for other monument than that.