Our View: Benjamin K. Goodspeed


He was one of the last of the old Chathamites, witness to and participant in the town's 20th century growth from a sleepy fishing village into a vibrant summer resort community. Last week we said goodbye to Benjamin K. Goodspeed, whose mild manner and good cheer permeated almost every aspect of Chatham life.

There aren't many left who remember Chatham in the Great Depression and World War II, or who actually participated in the famous rescue of the crew of the SS Pendleton. But Ben was there. Born here in 1924, he learned mechanical skills as well as a love of music from his father, George Goodspeed Sr., who had helped found the Chatham Band. Ben took up the trumpet and won a talent contest at the Orpheum Theater when he was in second grade. He began playing in the Chatham Band at 14, and continued through 2019, an 80-year run that will likely never be topped.

Ben was at town meeting on Feb. 18, 1952, when he and other volunteer members of the town's fire and rescue department were called to help transport the Pendleton survivors. Indeed, Ben was heavily involved in town affairs, serving for a dozen years on the finance committee and one term as a selectman. His business, Goodspeed's Gulf Station, was often a gathering place where locals hashed over town issues.

A family man, avid fisherman, golfer and boater, Ben Goodspeed will be remembered for the untold hours he spent as a volunteer, whether in town government, the Chatham Conservation Foundation, Chatham Historical Society, St. Martin's Lodge or the Chatham Methodist Church. He was, as town moderator and long-time friend William Litchfield put it, “a truly fine, decent gentleman, a classic Cape Codder.” Few of his kind remain, and he will be missed.