Brison Dowling Gooch
March 1, 1925 – Nov. 25, 2014
Brison Dowling Gooch, age 89, was born March 1, 1925, in Bar Harbor, to Austin McLellan Gooch and Clara Helen Dowling Gooch. His father was a local carpenter, and his mother cared for their six children.
Gooch served in the U.S. Army in Germany and Belgium from 1945-47 and was present at the Nuremberg trials after the end of World War II. Following his return to the United States, Gooch finished his undergraduate studies in history and philosophy at Miami University of Ohio and graduated in 1949. He continued to pursue graduate studies in history at the University of Wisconsin, where he completed his MA and Ph.D., specializing in 19th century European history, particularly Napoleon III and the Crimean War.
After completing his doctoral studies in 1955, he began an impressive academic career that spanned four decades and many regions of the country. Gooch held academic appointments at several respected U.S. institutions such as MIT, Yale, The University of Nebraska, The University of Maine, The University of Wisconsin and the University of Oklahoma. He served as department head at the University of Connecticut from 1969-73, and at Texas A&M from 1973-75. His tenure as a professor at Texas A&M from 1969-90 left an important legacy in the department, thanks to his efforts to reform curricula, cultivate productive faculty relationships, expand graduate programs and mentor future historical scholars in the completion of their graduate studies.
Gooch was a prolific author in his area of expertise. His involvement in professional organizations demonstrated his commitment to his vocation. After his retirement, Gooch generously donated his personal library, an impressive collection that was his life’s work, to Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan.
Gooch was married in 1951 to Dorothy Gale Doll, and they had two children, David Frederick and Linda Corinne. In 1975, Gooch married Shirley Jean Ferrell Black. They both retired from Texas A&M in 1991 to the scenic mountain town of Silverton, Colo., Shirley passed away in 1996 and Gooch resided in Silverton. After Shirley’s death, he met Freda Carley Peterson, archivist for the San Juan County, Colorado Historical Society. They were married in Oklahoma City, March 28, 1998, and have split their time between Oklahoma City and Silverton for the last 16 years.
The town of Silverton is forever grateful for Gooch’s commitment to their community and for his service as a member of the town council, school board and for his time as Silverton’s Municipal Judge. In 2009, Brison and Freda Gooch were named “Citizens of the Year” by the Silverton Chamber of Commerce. Silverton residents warmly recall many conversations with Gooch during his daily strolls through town during which his sincere smile and contagious laugh made everyone feel at ease. His quiet nature was easily broken by asking the right question and inspiring one of his many interesting stories including caddying on the golf course for the rich and famous in Bar Harbor and working odd jobs during graduate school such as a night watchman at a chicken hatchery.
Brison was preceded in death by his parents, Austin McLellan Gooch and Clara Helen Dowling Gooch; brothers, Norman Brison Gooch, Edgar Stephen Gooch and Alden Stanley Gooch; and wife, Shirley Jean Ferrell Black Gooch.
Survivors: wife, Freda Carley Peterson Gooch; brother, Vaughn Arden Gooch; sister, Clarabelle Gooch Hawes; cousin, Annie Mawhinney; ex-wife, Dorothy Gale Doll; stepsons, Kris Martin Peterson, Gary Scott Peterson, Richard Brian Hinton and Thomas W. Lanis; stepdaughters, Julie Peterson Hinton, Cheri Charlee Lanis and Jeani Charisse Sandberg; grandchildren, Carl and Christina, Amy and Alex, Nathan and Monique, and Adam; and great-grandchildren, Riley and Mason .
The family wishes to thank Dr. Larry Pennington and Dr. Shubham Pant at OU Medical Center for prolonging Brison’s life with their vital medical support. They would also like to thank Brison’s many friends for their prayers and cards of encouragement.
Burial will be at Silverton Hillside Cemetery in Silverton, Colo., at a later date. For those who wish, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718.