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Shirley Elizabeth Goldman

Mother of resident, celebrated artist

Elizabeth Goldman. (Courtesy photo)

Elizabeth Goldman, an artist whose visceral abstract paintings were deeply influenced by her wartime experiences in Great Britain as a child, died after a long illness Dec. 15 at home in Larchmont, New York.

Elizabeth was born Shirley Elizabeth Marr on Nov. 21, 1935, to David Mathers Marr and Elizabeth Jane Marr in the Edinburgh Garrison, Scotland, where her father—a Gordon Highlander— was stationed. During the war, she was raised in Aberdeen, where her family’s roots ran generations deep. In 1945, the family moved to London. Elizabeth’s artistic talent emerged early on, but the realities of postwar austerity led her to pursue a degree in nursing at the London University Hospital. After graduation, Elizabeth responded to an advertisement for nurses in the United States, ultimately landing at the University of Chicago Hospitals in 1959. There, her beauty and panache caught the attention of her husband-to-be, David Goldman. They were married in October 1964.

Elizabeth’s adventurous spirit perfectly matched David’s career in academic medicine, which kept the family on the move from Chicago to Cambridge; Bethesda, Maryland; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and Pelham, New York. Elizabeth renewed her passion for painting when living in the Washington area, where she worked with the Washington Color School artist Gene Davis. She later received her bachelor’s in fine arts, with honors, in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. Elizabeth relished being with other artists in collective studios in Richmond and New York City. A throughline of her work was the sense of alienation, loss, and destruction experienced in Aberdeen, which sustained heavy aerial bombing and strafing, and war-ravaged London. Her paintings received recognition by the National Academy School of Fine Arts and were celebrated in shows in North Carolina, Richmond, and New York. Elizabeth complemented her painting by immersing herself in contemporary art as a docent at the Whitney Museum for nearly 20 years.

Elizabeth lived life to the fullest, with gusto. Despite her illness, she remained cheerful, without complaint, greeting family and friends with a warm smile and eyes that lit up. Always the Scot, Elizabeth abided by the Gordon Highlanders’ regimental motto, “Bydand:” Stand Fast, Stay and Fight, Endure.

Elizabeth is survived by her devoted husband of 57 years, David; her children Jenifer (Angus) Fraser of Harvard, Martha (Burk) Davidson of Richmond, Virginia, and Adam (Allison) Goldman of Washington, D.C.; and her eight beloved grandchildren, Eli, Sasha, Lily, Rachel, Erica, Brooke, Gideon, and Clea.

She received exceptional care throughout her extended illness from her nurse, Annette Smart, and home health aide, Nadine Thompson. In the weeks before her death, she was surrounded by her loving family.

A graveside service was held Dec. 17 at the Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-On-Hudson, New York. Donations may be made in Elizabeth’s name to the VCU School of the Arts, www.support.vcu.edu/give/arts or the Pelham Arts Center, www.pelhamart center.org/support/.

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