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The Goleman Sisters Honor a Family Legacy

In 1999, when Jane Goleman, MD, went to hear Oprah’s fitness trainer Bob Greene speak at Ohio State, she came across a Spirit of Women Park brochure. She and her sister Kathy McKee, MD, immediately decided to purchase a tile to honor their mother, Maurine.  “We were thrilled,” Jane, a lifelong Columbus resident, recalls. “What a great opportunity to express our appreciation and publicly thank her.” 

As a young woman in the 1940s, Maurine had had hopes of going to medical school herself. “She was the daughter of a poor tobacco farmer in Kentucky and the little sister of two brothers who also wanted to be physicians” and did become doctors thanks in part to the GI Bill, continues Jane. “I went with her to her 50th high school reunion. It wasn’t until someone asked me what kind of doctor she was that I realized she’d put her dreams aside” due to her father’s illness and the lack of funds. Maurine did, however, obtain a PhD in Biochemistry from Ohio State and received certification as a medical technologist.

With two daughters who became physicians and a son who made a career in computers, the DNA was on the wall, so to speak. Jane, a pediatrician with Nationwide Children’s, is also an associate professor at the OSU Department of Pediatrics and works with medical students in the Lead.Serve.Inspire. program to help prepare them for the complexity and diversity of modern patient care. Her sister, Kathy Goleman McKee, MD, specializes in alcohol and drug rehabilitation at McKinley Hall in the Springfield area.

Maurine “was always there for us,” says Jane. “In high school, when I got stuck on chemical equations, she would balance them seconds.” When Jane was touring OSU as a first-year medical student, “Mom came with me and started peppering the guide with questions. Finally the guide asked her, ‘Are you applying here, too?’”

In the Goleman family, higher education was mandatory, rather than optional. Jane’s father, Lyle Goleman, PhD, was the first chair of Ohio State’s Department of Entomology, and when Jane, the youngest, was in high school, Maurine made good use of her degree running a small medical laboratory in Upper Arlington. “She kept up her medical technologist license even though she stopped working after we were born.”  And rather than being about what women could or could not do, “it was more of a choice of which career path we would take.”

With the first park, “Kathy and I had a great time drawing the diagram for the tile,” adds Jane. They are equally excited about the new Spirit of Women Park. “As a female physician and educator, I find it very affirming towards women. Mom instilled the idea in us that we could do anything we put our minds to.” 

Sharan Ann Williams – Jill Dixon’s Personal Beacon

When Jill Dixon first heard about the Spirit of Women Park in 1999, she was working as a patient care associate and had not yet achieved her goal as a firefighter and paramedic. Shortly afterwards, however, “I was able to realize a dream I thought was out of reach,” being hired by the Columbus Division of Fire. She has been with them ever since.     

Throughout Jill’s life, her mother, Sharan Ann Williams, served as her beacon. “She always supported my ambitions, whether it was to be bakery chef when I was in second grade or, in high school, first, as a fighter pilot – after seeing the movie “Top Gun” -- and then a doctor,” recalls Jill. As a 17-year-old freshman at Denison University in Granville, “when I went and told her I was interested in joining the volunteer fire department in town, she probably wondered if I’d lost my mind.” Jill met her husband during her volunteer firefighting stint and graduated from Denison with a BS in biology.

As an adult, and as the mother of two young children and two older stepchildren, Jill remained in Granville and now understands the amount of worrying that parenting can involve:  “No doubt Mom had to force herself to suppress the instinct to protect me from the inherent danger of the job.” In fact, Sharan was so supportive that, when she got a new car, she insisted that Jill get her a “Firefighter’s Mom” sticker to replace the original that Jill had purchased for her previous vehicle.

When Jill was a young child, the family moved around a bit, ending up in Bexley when she was seven. “I like to joke to coworkers that I grew up on the ‘poor’ side of town, because we were hardly the typical wealthy folks,” she observes. Nevertheless Sharan made sure the children lacked for nothing:  “I went to Europe my junior year in high school and to space camp when I was a senior.”  Along with Jill’s stepfather, who owned an insulation business, Sharan worked full-time, first at Ross Labs, and then at a law firm in downtown Columbus. “She made sacrifices for us kids and never batted an eyelash. She wanted to give us the things she never had.”

But Sharan’s best gifts were perhaps intangible. “I had to grow up quickly and learn to be independent,” remarks Jill. “This enabled me to deal with the physical and mental challenges of being a firefighter. You need to have a tough skin and prove yourself, both as a newcomer and as a female.”  It has also helped Jill deal with her 9-year-old son’s mild autism. “He is high-functioning, but will be facing challenges” as he moves through the school system.

To honor her mother, Jill drew a sun, a heart, a star and a rainbow on her original tile.  Even Sharan got into the act, making her own tile to honor three of her friends. Both women are looking forward to rediscovering their tiles in the “new” Spirit of Women Park. “It is a great way to honor the most important person in my life,” says Jill.  “You don’t think about telling your mom ‘thanks’ every day, but this represents a permanent public display of appreciation.”