Monica Goodling proves that all roads lead to York

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Monica Goodling, a graduate of Northeastern High School, is at the center of an international story. Background posts: Monica and ‘The Bachelor’ , Clinton, Obama at Messiah College: Still stopping short of stepping on county soil, About Monica Goodling: ‘She’ll come through this.’.

Well, we’ve established in the York Town Square posts on the long trumpeter at the Preakness, the woman who won “The Bachelor” and the mayor of Braddock, Pa., that all roads lead to York County.
Now, today, Monica Goodling, a former York Haven-area resident, is in the public spotlight for her testimony under immunity in the firing of federal attorneys.
Goodling might have lived for years in York County, but she left a light footprint here.


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Monica Goodling at a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
The YDR’s Tom Joyce wrote the best researched story (see below) to date on the woman from the county’s northern tier who is making national headlines.
My favorite part:

“David Gudz ended up moving into the home that the Fitts family (Goodling’s family) used to occupy. They seemed like nice people when he bought the home from them, he said. Other than that, there’s not much to tell.
“You don’t know about people when you’re transferring a home,” he said. “As long as there’s no bodies in the wall or anything.”

York County is indeed the center of the universe.
Joyce’s entire story (May 6, 2007) follows:

She was a good kid, her mother said. One of those kind, quiet children. Very smart, too.
At the age of 2, she could spell her own name, count and name the colors.
She loved to read growing up — anything she could get her hands on. The Bobbsey Twins. Nancy Drew. She wanted to be a doctor when she started college. While she was in college, she did some mission work, spending a week working with abused women in Chicago.
Cindy Fitt stood in the doorway of her home in Osceola Mills, holding a tiny, shivering dog in her arms, as she recounted details from the childhood and youth of her 33-year-old daughter, Monica Goodling.
Earlier that day, Fitt checked the news on the Internet, and read of a new development. Her daughter would be the focus of a Justice Department internal investigation.
Fitt didn’t want to talk about the political controversy enmeshing her daughter. Even if she was inclined to discuss it, Fitt said, she wouldn’t have much to tell.
Goodling calls her often. Several times a week, sometimes. The job from which Goodling recently resigned, aide to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, kept her so busy that she didn’t have time to do much outside work. Still, mother and daughter always found something to discuss other than Goodling’s job.
Goodling grew up in York County, in York Haven, and attended Northeastern High School. When she graduated in 1991, she went away to Messiah College in Grantham, just across the York County line northeast of Dillsburg. From there, she went on to Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., to study law, then to a highly placed federal position and eventually to the center of a political dust-up that many speculate might implicate the White House before it’s over.
Fitt and her husband, William, moved out of York Haven three years ago and back to Osceola Mills, about 30 miles west of State College, where Fitt’s family lives.
Over the years, Fitt said, she’s been pleased with her daughter’s successes, although she wishes Goodling could have settled down closer.
And now? Now she just wishes the whole affair in Washington, D.C., would end.
“She’s just so compassionate and honest,” Fitt said. “This has just been like . . .”
She paused.
“You know . . .” her voice trailed off.
Unaware of prominence
A lot of new houses have gone up on Pheasant Run Road in Newberry Township outside York Haven since Goodling lived there as a girl. People along the street said it’s a pleasant enough neighborhood, but not one where neighbors socialize much. Some people along the street said they knew the Fitt family before they moved away.
They described them as nice people. Quiet. Kept to themselves for the most part. Several were surprised to learn of Goodling’s role in a national news story.
Dennis Hultzapple, who lives near the entrance to the street, recognized Goodling when he saw her on the news. He asked his wife, “Isn’t that Cindy Fitt’s girl?”
David Gudz ended up moving into the home that the Fitts family used to occupy. They seemed like nice people when he bought the home from them, he said. Other than that, there’s not much to tell.
“You don’t know about people when you’re transferring a home,” he said. “As long as there’s no bodies in the wall or anything.”
Neighbors told him they were private people, and he can believe it. One aspect of the home he found a bit peculiar when he moved in was a perimeter of trees, forming a natural fence that he assumed was meant to shield the backyard from view.
That was Goodling’s home while she attended Northeastern High School. She was active there, Fitt said. She was in school plays and on the swim team, and she was a member of the honor roll society. Later, at Messiah College, she would be student body president and editor of the yearbook.
“She commits 100 percent when she does anything,” Fitt said.
In high school, Goodling’s evangelical faith became stronger, Fitt said. Fitt tried to give Goodling a religious upbringing, though her daughter had other influences.
Fitt said her daughter came from a “broken home,” and alternated living with her mother and her birth father. She didn’t want to elaborate.
“There were two different lifestyles,” Fitt said.
Teachers at Northeastern High School remembered her as a bright, well-behaved student who attended advanced placement classes.
Vincent Matusheski, who retired from Northeastern in 1999, said he believes she was in his advanced placement English class. The sight of her on the news spurred memories, though no strong ones. And that’s probably a good thing.
For better or worse, Matusheski said, you tend to carry the strongest memories of the students you had problems with. The fact that he has no such memories of Goodling likely means she wasn’t a problem student.
Matusheski said he followed the news story in the national media. Some aspects of the coverage have irritated him, such as the characterization of Messiah College as a substandard school.
“It’s kind of insulting to her,” Matusheski said.
College emphasizes service
As a recent afternoon turned into evening, small clusters of students made their way along the paved walkways of Messiah College’s campus. Among them, toting a bookbag, was political science major Christopher Colin.
Colin is aware that Goodling attended Messiah, but doesn’t think that many of his fellow students are. The school newspaper mentioned it, but it’s not something that comes up a lot in classroom discussions or social conversation.
Colin said he’s been following the story. Some national media outlets have used Goodling’s subsequent attendance at Regent University as an implicit criticism of President Bush’s administration. National news stories have pointed out that the administration hired a high number of graduates from Regent, a low-rated law school founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, implying that the White House is more interested in their political viewpoint than their capabilities.
Colin thinks that Messiah College has been unfairly grouped in with that assessment, and characterized as a bastion of narrow-minded religious thought.
Yes, the college has a definite Christian identity, Colin said. But within that tradition, the college promotes a wide variety of thought. The school has brought in speakers both for and against the war in Iraq. Recently, the college invited a visit by the Equality Ride, a traveling group of students demonstrating for gay, lesbian and transgendered rights, to start a conversation on the topic, Colin said.
A big emphasis at the school is community involvement, and the practice of Christian principles in public life, Colin said.
“Integrating your faith and your career are very important,” he said.
Not much talk in new town
Not many people, outside her family, know about Goodling in Osceola Mills, Fitt said.
Fitt’s proud of Goodling, but she’s not the kind of mother who runs around and tells everybody that her daughter is working with the White House.
And now that Goodling is trying to maintain her silence in the face of a House Judiciary Committee inquiry, a lot of talk about her daughter’s activities doesn’t seem advisable.
Goodling’s honest, Fitt said. That part of her daughter’s personality has remained constant throughout her life. But other than that, a lot has changed since Goodling was a bookish girl living outside York Haven.
“It’s been quite a while since she grew up,” Fitt said.

For a look at the region where Monica Goodling grew up, see Big Conewago serves as physical, cultural divide in York County.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.

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