Mildred George Goertzel, a peace activist and teacher whose book "Cradles of Eminence," about the early lives of famous people, is considered a classic in gifted education, devoted herself to words and freedom.
With her husband of 60 years, the late Victor Goertzel, and their son Ted Goertzel of Medford Lakes, N.J., she wrote other books, including "Linus Pauling: A Life in Science and Politics."
She tried to write a mystery, her favorite genre for recreational reading, but the book went unpublished.
She also was a fierce competitor at chess and Scrabble.
But her forte was working for liberal causes and analyzing lives of accomplished people. She had met Eleanor Roosevelt, Socialist leader Norman Thomas, Mexican artist Diego Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
"She was a good Quaker," said her son Penn Goertzel of Seattle. "She'd talk a lot on the phone, have morning coffee at The Daily Grind in Montlake and prepare dinner on an average day. But mainly she'd be writing. She wrote five hours a day."
Mrs. Goertzel died last Friday (Jan. 21) of heart failure. She was 94.
Born on a farm in Arcadia, Ind., she excelled in English at school and earned a bachelor's degree from Ball State Teacher's College. She paid her way through college by writing for newspapers and teaching elocution.
After college, she taught in Indiana and Michigan. Summers, she studied writing at the University of Chicago; one of her professors was playwright Thornton Wilder.
She threw herself into Depression-era socialist politics, which is how she met her future husband.
Working in Mexico, they met intellectuals and artists and joined the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Their work later took them to California, Michigan and New Jersey. In 1957, after driving an African-American student who'd stayed with them home to Birmingham, Ala., they visited King.
In Detroit, Mrs. Goertzel chaired the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and co-founded the National Society for Gifted Children. In New Jersey, she directed a school for emotionally disturbed youngsters and led anti-war and civil-rights demonstrations.
Her book "Cradles of Eminence," published in 1962, earned good national reviews for its insights into how prominent people develop. The sequel, "300 Eminent Personalities," was published in 1978.
Her biography of the renown chemist Pauling, a Nobel Prize-winner in chemistry and peace, was a labor of love and dismay. "She admired him as a scientist and pacifist but disliked his egocentric personality and claims for Vitamin C as a cure-all," said Goertzel.
A Seattle resident since 1980, she stayed involved in Friends' causes.
"She was tough," said her son. "And she never did have a shortage of opinions."
Also surviving are her son John Goertzel of Langley, Island County; five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
http://www.amazon.com/Cradles-Eminence- ... 0910707561