Penn George Goertzel
1947 - 2001

Penn George Goertzel was born on August 2, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan, the third son of psychologist Dr.Victor Goertzel, and teacher and author Mildred George Goertzel.

    A gregarious child, and baby of the family, Penn’s fourth-grade report card from a Montclair, New Jersey school shows all superior marks in his relationship with others and in his work habits. His arithmetic and handwriting, however, were below average and Victor’s scribbled note to the teacher explained, "As you can see he comes by his poor handwriting naturally."

    Penn graduated from Buena High School in Ventura, California and obtained a B.S. in psychology and a M.S. in education from the University of Oregon. During this time he was a graduate fellow in creative writing and taught in the Oregon State prison system where he was evaluated as "an exceptional teacher."

    After several years employment as a counselor and tutor, Penn followed his calling to teach. He worked in the Juneau School District with Native Alaskan children, in Chicago’s public schools in reading and science and as a science teacher at the Ted Lenart Gifted Science school, and at Eton School in Redmond, Washington. He was devoted to his students, enriching their experiences by coaching basketball, founding a chess club, teaching creative writing and acting, doing drug education, directing science fair participation and Olympic Academic teams, and fostering intellectual curiosity with humor and sensitivity. He was featured on Chicago’s WFBT television station on The Homework Show where, as host and on-air science teacher he was lauded by the producer who said, "Mr. Goertzel’s easy going on-the-air mannerism has made him the favorite of viewers calling in with their homework questions."

    A letter of recommendation in 1997 from the Ted Lenart Regional Gifted Center noted that his fourth-grade students received the highest scores in the state. The letter continued:

"One of [Penn’s] unique attributes is his ability to inspire and motivate by example. . . . he has created an environment in which students are encouraged to question and investigate. Discussions are lively, challenges are thought-provoking, and expectations are high. His mastery of content and artistry as an instructor were so prized that he was recruited to teach science citywide thorough one of the cable channels in Chicago."     Penn’s creativity and wit found an audience through his playwriting. Here is how he portrayed his literary biography: "Penn Goertzel began writing at the University of Oregon where he had a number of poems published in literary magazines and anthologies, and taught in the state prisons as a Graduate Teaching Fellow in Fiction Writing.

"He started writing plays in Juneau, Alaska and was a prize winner in the Great Alaska Playrush three years in a row, with productions at the Perseverance Theatre. In Chicago, Goertzel was produced at Chicago Dramatists and at Bailiwick Theatre. His work received quite positive reviews in The Chicago Tribune and other media sources.

"Since moving to Seattle in 1997, he has had short plays produced by A Theatre Near You, Two Bit Productions, the Northwest Playwright’s Guild, Odd Duck Studio, The Pearl Café, Seattle Fringe Festival, and at Richard Hugo House."

"He is currently marketing a full-length play, The Junk Boom, and a novel, A Cold Alaskan Death.

    Penn will be greatly missed by his students, many friends, literary colleagues, family, and particularly his nieces, nephews, stepchildren and children of friends who benefited greatly from his humor, attention, and encouragement. He died on August 18, 2001 of complications from a liver transplant.

    Penn is survived by his brothers, Ted and partner Linda Lawton of Medford Lakes, New Jersey, and John and wife Sue Ellen White of Langley, Washington; his aunt, Aida Hunter of Santa Rosa, California; his nephews Benjamin Goertzel and Mario Goertzel, niece Rebecca Goertzel; stepchildren Alexis, Seth, and Cate Merrick, and step-nieces Tamara Guirado and Ariel Hansen.