Obituary: Gordon Good, retired scientific glassblower

By Daniel J. Fitzgibbons

Gordon Good, 81, retired master glassblower, died June 11 in the Hernando-Pasco Hospice Care Center in New Port Richey, Fla.

He worked on campus as a scientific glassblower for 22 years until his retirement in 1986. During that span, he crafted thousands of specialized instruments and vessels for use by researchers at the Five College institutions as well as the UMass Medical Center.

In a 1986 interview with The Campus Chronicle, Good said he''d never planned to become a glassblower. “It was something I fell into by accident. I was working in a TNT control lab before going into the Army Air Force, and a chemist there taught me the basics of blowing glass.”

After his discharge from the 8th Army Air Corps following World War II, Good was hired by Monsanto in St. Louis, where he refined his glassblowing techniques. When he arrived at UMass in 1964, the Scientific Glassblowing Laboratory was a 16-by-20-foot space in Goessmann Laboratory. But as Good recalled, “It was the chance to be number one in a lab and work where I could educate my three daughters at a reasonable cost.”

In 1970, the glassblowing lab moved to the Lederle Research Center and the demand for custom-blown devices was increasing steadily. By the time of his retirement, Good said he and the other two glassblowers always had more than enough work on their schedules.

Among his favorite works was a spiral-shaped form of glass he fashioned for a campus researcher who was studying hermit crabs, which make their homes in old seashells. The clear shell crafted by Good allowed the scientist to observe the crab’s activities on a daily basis.

Good’s skills earned him recognition from researchers on and off campus. He received a certificate of recognition from the campus chapter of the scientific research society Sigma Xi and a Chancellor’s Citation. In 1978-79, he was served as president of the American Scientific Glassblowers Society, which later presented him with an achievement award.

He leaves three daughters, Linda Walas of Greenville, N.C., Jeanne Brown of Westfield, and Carol Smith of Live Oak, Fla., a brother and sister, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Memorial gifts may be made to the American Cancer Society, 31 Capital Dr., West Springfield 01089 or the Hernando-Pasco Hospice Care Center, 12107 Majestic Blvd., Hudson FL 34667.