Frederick D. Godman has retired as senior vice president of The Daily Record after a 67-year career that began when he joined the newspaper as a paperboy at the age of 12.
Except for four years spent on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, Godman had only one employer since June 15, 1944. His last day on active duty with The Daily Record, appropriately enough, was Nov. 11, Veterans’ Day.
“Starting with a carrier route as a young boy, Fred has become synonymous with our publication and a symbol of customer service to us all,” said Christopher A. Eddings, president of The Daily Record and director of publishing operations for The Dolan Company, which owns the newspaper.”Sixty-seven years is a long time to devote to most things in life, but Fred would say it was easy since he did it for his extended Daily Record family.”
“Fred always put his clients’ interests first and foremost, which is the kind of thinking that has made The Daily Record so important to its customers. Fred isn’t a company man. He’s the client’s man,” said Dolan Company Chairman, CEO and President James P. Dolan.
Dolan, Eddings and other colleagues and family members will attend a retirement dinner for Godman Wednesday night at The Tavern at Bluestone in Timonium.
Reminiscing about his career, Godman said, “The thing I will remember the most is having met and been a personal friend of so many Baltimore politicians and auctioneers and public officials.”
He added, “The good Lord was good to me when he put me at The Daily Record. It was beautiful. I am going to lament not being part of the place anymore.”
Several of Godman’s longtime associates spoke fondly of their relationships with him.
“He’s as nice as a person as you’ll ever want to meet, very devoted to The Daily Record and devoted to his clients,” said Joseph Cooper, president of Alex Cooper Auctioneers Inc.
“We enjoyed every minute of dealing with him,” said Ron West of Harvey West Auctioneers LLC.
“Since I’ve been in the courthouse going on 25 years … Fred has been the person I’ve dealt with,” said Grace G. Connolly, Baltimore County Register of Wills. “He was just a great guy. Always there. Always helpful, always full of information.”
“I love the man,” said Frank M. Conaway, Clerk of the Baltimore City Circuit Court. “Great man. Great personality. Great character. Most people who had business downtown would know Fred Godman. I mean, he made himself known.”
When Godman began his lifelong career at The Daily Record as a part-time newspaper carrier, he was just filling in for a friend who was going on vacation.
“I was only supposed to be there 30 days,” said Godman, who was in junior high school at the time.
Two weeks into the job, Godman said, he was walking through the newspaper’s first-floor office after making his deliveries, when he was hailed by the company’s vice president and general manager.
“He pointed to me and said, in a gruff voice, ‘Hey, boy, where are you going?’”
Godman said he was going home.
“Oh, no, you’re not,” said the general manager. “I need an office boy and errand boy.”
By this time, his friend, who had returned from vacation, told young Godman to keep the job.
He was happy to do so. His father died in 1944, and Godman lived with his widowed mother and a brother and a sister in a rented house. Money was scarce.
The general manager told Godman he would be paid $5 a week for being a Daily Record carrier and 50 cents an hour for being an office boy. In a typical week, he’d earn $14.
“I kept $4 for my expenses and gave my mother $10. That money was a godsend,” Godman recalled. “We were basically on welfare.”
When Godman was about 17, he enrolled in typography school and learned how to operate a Linotype machine. When he was graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, he apprenticed in The Daily Record’s composing room, and worked as a copyholder, scanning ads and legal notices for typographical errors.
In 1952, during the height of the Korean War, he enlisted in the Air Force and spent the next four years in Waco, Texas, as a printing superintendent.
Godman rejoined The Daily Record in 1956 expecting to become a journeyman printer, but he began selling display ads instead. In 1958 he was promoted to advertising manager.
That year, Godman also entered the University of Baltimore, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Later, he taught marketing for seven years as a part-time instructor at the university.
Meanwhile, he continued his steady rise at The Daily Record. In 1976, he was promoted from advertising manager to vice president for marketing. Two years later, he was elected to the board of directors. In 1980, he became managing editor. Two years after that, he was named vice president and general manager.
He became senior vice president of sales in 1990 and was named senior vice president after The Daily Record became a Dolan property in 1994.
Paul Samuel, Tom Linthicum and Mark Miller contributed to this article.