Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2019  
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  Erica T. Goode, M.P.H., M.D. - March 25, 1940 - June 15, 2019
June 21, 2019

Erica and her husband Barry were long-time Point Richmond residents.

Erica discovered early in life that she was happiest helping others, which is how she spent her vibrant, optimistic, exceptionally well-lived life. So she was beloved by family, friends, colleagues and devoted patients, who now mourn her passing.

She was born March 25, 1940 to Ed and Mary Lou Sweeting and proved to be a perfect blend of her father's focused intelligence and iron will and her mother's sweet, gentle manner. Her parents named her Judith Raymond Erica Sweeting, but her father called her "Ockie" for reasons known best to him. When she entered school, she rejected most of that and chose to use the name Erica, which is how we all knew her. It was an early demonstration of her gentle decisiveness.

At the age of eight, while playing by Strawberry Creek, she decided she wanted to go to UC Berkeley, and, characteristically, that is exactly what she did, receiving three degrees from that University: an undergraduate degree in nutrition (1962), a Masters of Public Health (1967), and a medical degree (1977).

While an undergraduate, she married (Bruce Tucker). That marriage did not last, and by the late 1960's she moved to Washington, DC where she worked as a nutritionist in a public health clinic on the grounds of a public housing project. While there, her life took two major turns. First, her younger sister, Shari, died of a brain tumor at the age of 29. That led Erica to decide to become a physician. Second, she met Barry. She later said, "the universe took Shari and gave me Barry."

In 1974 they married and for forty-five years relished life together. After the wedding, she again had to choose her name, for she was then potentially "Judith Raymond Erica Sweeting Tucker Goode" which she simply shortened to "Erica T. Goode," liking the sound of "Dr. Goode." Erica and Barry were delighted with the arrival of two sons: Nate (1981) and Aaron (1982). Erica's love and devotion to them was unabated for the rest of her life. So too, was her warm relationship with her late parents and stepmother, and with Barry's parents, Charlotte and Hy Goode (Florida). All warmly enriched one another's lives.

Professionally, she was the doctor every patient wanted. After finishing her internship and residency at Children's Hospital in San Francisco - where she was co-chief resident - she opened her own private practice, which was quickly filled; although she always found it all but impossible to turn away someone who needed her help. She cared for each patient and took the time necessary to listen to and heal them. Even after she retired, some patients said, "you are going to be my doctor until one of us dies." In 1999 she joined the Institute for Health and Healing at California Pacific Medical Center, where she was able to work with others to provide integrative care. Although Erica practiced traditional western medicine at the highest level, she was always open to learning about alternative treatments.

She was a mainstay of the medical community. Drawing on her deep knowledge of nutrition, she developed one of the first eating disorder programs in San Francisco. For 26 years she served as an associate clinical professor of medicine at UCSF, teaching the Introduction to Clinical Medicine program, to hundreds of medical students. During that same period, she gave a series of lectures on nutrition each year to the medical residents at Children's Hospital and California Pacific Medical Center. She developed comprehensive, collaborative protocols for nutritional, psychosocial, and medical management for bariatric patients at St. Mary's Hospital.

She served on the CPMC Ethics Committee continuously from 1984 to her retirement; grappling with difficult and sensitive issues. Erica also was an active member of the San Francisco Medical Society and worked on the editorial board of its monthly publication, writing many articles and guest editing a special edition on nutrition in medicine. She also wrote obituaries of Society members – delegating to her husband the job of scouring the back pages of the newspaper every day to make sure no one was missed.

Erica served (often as chair) her UCSF Medical School Class reunion (i.e. fundraising) committee every five years – but always insisted that the money raised be used for scholarships for needy students.

She had an undying, unlimited curiosity and was a voracious reader. She loved to travel both domestically and internationally. Her sense of adventure never left her. Just a few months before her death, she visited Bhutan where she hiked (uphill all the way) to the Tiger's Nest monastery. And just a few weeks ago she traveled to the Lava Beds National Monument and Surprise Valley. Still, she dearly loved simply being in her Point Richmond home with its views of the Bay, the birds at the feeder, and eating fresh food from a large vegetable garden.

Deeply interested in effecting change in health policy and community care issues, Erica served for several years on the California Commission on Aging and was a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 1996 and again in 2006. She joined the board of the Richmond Community Foundation in 2009. For more than a decade Erica also was part of the Prison Visitation and Support program, driving each month to Dublin, California to visit with two imprisoned women.

Of course, she had her share of accolades. For her practice she was routinely listed in "The Best Doctors in San Francisco," for her teaching and dedication to the art of healing she was made a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, and for her devotion to her patients she was given the Institute for Health and Healing's Compassionate Caregiver award. At her retirement party she was feted with speeches and given a bouquet of broccoli.

But her real joy was in the relationships she had with her husband, sons, extended family, friends, colleagues and patients. All knew her as a brilliant but modest, optimistic, good-humored, gentle woman who was an example of the best of what a human being could be.

Her family is grateful to all the medical personnel who took such good care of her in the last few years.

A celebration of her life is being planned and will be announced here. In the meantime, if you wish to memorialize her you can make a contribution to the Richmond Community Foundation or to your favorite non-profit that serves people who need help.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle from June 21 to June 23, 2019