Front Row Seat: Goddard remains outspoken foe of animal abuse

by MIKE LESKO | REPORTER Published:

Meteorologist Dick Goddard of WJW-TV (Channel 8) has a ton of achievements to his credit.

He created the annually Woollybear Festival, took part in skits on WJW's popular "Big Chuck and Lil' John Show," was the official statistician for Cleveland Browns home games for more than 40 years, hosted WJW's version of "Bowling for Dollars," was elected to the Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame and was voted the most popular local TV weatherman in America.

"I've been guessing the weather on TV," Goddard said Jan. 15 as the guest speaker at the Aurora Study Club's monthly meeting at the Church in Aurora. "It's all an estimate of probability."

However, the thing he is most proud of is his loving support of animals. "Companion animal abuse" legislation named after him passed through the Ohio House of Representatives but still needs to be approved by the state Senate to become law.

"We hope to get it passed by the Senate this month," Goddard, 82, told more than 120 club members, adding that he hopes it occurs before he goes to "the Great Weather Bureau in the sky."

The legislation would make it a felony offense for people who "knowingly cause serious physical harm" to companion animals.

"If it passes, it will be called Goddard's Law," he said, adding he doesn't care who gets the credit, just so the legislation is OK'd. "I'm on a crusade. We have a [first-offense misdemeanor] penalty now, but it is not severe enough. It should be a felony. Hopefully, we can upgrade the penalty."

Goddard urged people to write letters to their state senators. "A well-written letter is better than 100 names on a petition," he said.

Aurora's state senator is John Eklund, R-18, Ohio Senate building, 1 Capitol Square, first floor, Columbus 43215.

GODDARD SOLD items following his talk in Aurora but stressed that he donates the money to help animals. He said he gave money to 92 animal shelters last year. His love of animals started as a youngster growing up on a farm in Green.

"I learned an appreciation for animals," he said. "We kept any stray that came to our 5-acre farm and gave it a good life."

Goddard created the annual Woollybear Festival, a day-long family event in Vermilion dedicated to teaching children about the weather and animals. Included in the event are a caterpillar race and animal costume contests.

"No one that I know of has been hit by lightning while wearing a Woollybear sticker," he said.

Goddard, who was born in Akron, played varsity football at Green High School and freshman football at Kent State University, leading to his love of the Browns.

"I saw Jim Brown's first game, which was at the Akron Rubber Bowl [in 1957]," he said, referring to Cleveland's Hall-of-Fame fullback. Goddard said the team opened its preseason schedule at the Rubber Bowl in those days.

Goddard later moved to Aurora, and his daughter graduated from Aurora High School, then was married at the Church in Aurora in 1988. "We went to the Walden Inn for the reception," he said. "It was so hot -- and the air conditioning went out."

Goddard's popularity remains enormous throughout the Channel 8 viewing area, and his accomplishments are numerous, but if the animal abuse legislation bearing his name becomes reality, that will please him the most.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

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Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC

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