Toddy Goldman

2014 Unsung Hero Toddy Goldman. Photo: Yana Hotter

By Ellie Grossman, Special to the Jewish Light

At 90 years old, Toddy Goldman has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon. His days are full of volunteering for many organizations, spending time with his family and friends, and basically making people feel happy.

“The key to staying young and positive is having things to look forward to everyday. I can’t wait to do my volunteer work, especially my job as a KTVI consumer advocate. People call us with their problems, and we help solve them,” says Goldman, who for the last 30 years has worked at “Call for Action,” originally with KMOX Radio and now with Fox 2 KTVI.

Toddy’s colleagues have a lot of respect for him, too.

“Toddy is certainly a remarkable man for working at Contact 2 for over 30 years—that shows his commitment to helping people. He is a hard taskmaster, too, and makes us get back to work when we kibbitz a little bit too much,” said Stephen Radinsky, a retired radiologist who has been friends with Goldman for 25 years and knows him from the men’s health club at the Jewish Community Center.

“Toddy runs the front desk, and I handle the medical problems that come up. We take the extra step and have the best crew, and a lot of that has to do with Toddy. He is a joy to be around, and we have a good time.”

For example, Goldman helped a young girl who had bad gum and teeth problems and her poor family could not afford dentures. “I listened to their story and felt sorry for them,” he said. “So we got help from a dentist, who I know very well, and we got a new set of dentures for her at absolutely no cost. I just get that glow, that feeling when I help people.”

“It’s a great feeling when you know that you help people whether it’s mentally, physically.  I just get a great kick out of helping people,” added Goldman, who also loves to spend time with his four grandchildren and two great-granddaughters, ages two and nine months.

In fact, Goldman is busier now in his retired life than when he was during his career as a district manager of National Shirt Shops.

In 1989, at age 65, when most of his friends were enjoying the leisurely life, Goldman joined the Israeli Army. He participated in a nonpolitical nonprofit organization that enlisted volunteers to alleviate manpower shortages during Israeli wars. For three months, he was assigned to a base in Ashkelon Israel, near Tel Aviv, where he serviced tanks returning from the war zone.

“When the war broke out in 1941, I was attending the University of Missouri and wanted to enlist in the American Army, but I couldn’t get in because I had a dislocated shoulder and couldn’t fire a gun. I asked for a desk job, but they didn’t need me. So I joined the Israeli Army instead,” said Goldman, who also built war airplanes for McDonnell Aircraft.

Today, this active St. Louis native still lives on his own, in an apartment in Creve Coeur, and drives around town in his little Kia. He has places to go and people to see, whether he’s greeting people at the door at the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival or delivering cases of playing cards that he picks up at the casinos and distributes to area fire stations, USO branches, and nursing homes.

Staying mentally and physically fit is key to longevity, said Goldman, who has competed in the Senior Olympics at the JCC almost as long as it started 34 years ago.

In fact, this is the first year he will miss the event because his grandson Andrew is getting married over Memorial Day weekend.

“I’ll work around it,” said Goldman, who has a box of medals from winning racquetball, volleyball, horseshoes, and other sports. He also used to teach racquetball to children, age 8 and up.

Goldman is an inspiration to people of all ages, especially his grandson Andrew.

“Throughout his long life, my grandfather has been committed to giving back to the community. He maintains a remarkable disposition, never complaining and looking to the future with a positive outlook. His kindness, warmth and life-affirming attitude have made him a mentor and role model to countless young people and certainly for me.”

Goldman, who graduated from Soldan High School in 1941, stays in tip top shape mentally as well. In fact, he was the subject of a geriatric memory study at the St. Louis University cardiac department and Washington University psychology department.

“Two graduate students came to my house and asked me questions about life and death, my general outlook on life, and what I doing to maintain my memory. I told them that I keep active, do crossword puzzles, keep moving, and participate and volunteer. That’s what keeps me going. I look forward to getting up in the morning and doing something,” said Goldman, who is also on the board of B’nai B’rith.

“I think if you don’t keep moving, both mentally and physically, your muscles will atrophy. Don’t sit when you can walk. Don’t lie down when you can sit up. And keep abreast of the time, be observant of what’s going on. Get in discussions, take an active part in the community,” said Goldman, who at age 64 became a certified Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), in which he used to investigate violence and abuse in the home and reported his findings in the court.

Perhaps Goldman’s greatest quality is being humble.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be up for an Unsung Hero award,” he said. “You don’t volunteer for a reward or statue or whatever.  You do it because there’s a calling for it, and you answer the call.”

Toddy Goldman 

Age: 90

Residence: Creve Coeur

Quote: “You don’t volunteer for a reward or statue or whatever. You do it because there’s a calling for it, and you answer the call.”