Building the Gary David Goldberg Gym as a Team
Hollywood knew him as Gary David Goldberg, creator/producer of acclaimed TV series Family Ties, Brooklyn Bridge, and Spin City. Brooklyn knew him as a storied high school athlete. Montecito knew him as the guy on local beaches walking five big black dogs – four Newfoundlands and a Labrador.
He was all of these; and a parent to two daughters, a friend, a mentor, and for 44 years, a partner to Diana Meehan – teacher/researcher, mother of those two daughters, co-founder of The Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles. Me.
Gary relished being alive. He savored sunsets, walking up the hill behind our house almost every night with one or more dogs to sit without words and look at the colors, and the light, and the close of day. He liked the froth and slurp of egg creams, the abundance represented by an extra restaurant entrée “for the table,” a clumsy tumble on the floor with a Labrador or Newf.
The way he lived, the immensity and authenticity, the density and audacity, the joy and fullness of waking in the morning, of walking on the beach at low tide, of welcoming friends to the house for dinner, all implied a momentum that would keep going indefinitely. He didn’t embrace change. He didn’t even recognize it.
“I like my pillow,” he once said to me.
“Good,” I said.
“Is it new?” he asked.
“Relatively, about six months.”
“I got it when we changed beds,” I finally say.
“We changed beds? This is not our bed?”
“It is now.”
“Is this one wildly different?”
“Pretty different,” I nod.
“Oh. You know if we went from no bed to this bed, I would have recognized the change.”
“You’re hopeless,” I said with a smile.
Gary never wanted to leave a party. Or a restaurant. Even a walk on Summerland beach. For him the journey was the
When we moved to Montecito 15 years ago, we’d already made journeys together – from our first kiss in Greenwich Village in the ‘60s to the night we said goodbye to Molly, the canine movie star of Must Love Dogs (Gary’s passion project he wrote and directed) on this lavender-and-lemon ranch in Santa Barbara. Gary loved Santa Barbara long before many of his Hollywood compatriots discovered its magic.
We’d made the extraordinary journey of parenthood; the births of our daughters, their wakefulness as babes, dreaminess as adolescents, and their clear-eyed grace and strength as adult women we were proud to know.
We made the journey from Berkeley in the ‘60s when we found our beloved Newf, named Ubu, in a box of puppies by Sproul Hall, to Brentwood in the 90s when Gary founded UBU Productions and I taught at UCLA, to 1995 when I co-founded The Archer School for Girls, with Gary as the school’s biggest donor and my constant cheerleader.
Archer School itself has been a journey. It’s an extraordinary school, dedicated to teaching girls the way they learn best, even as it has had to fight from the beginning for its very existence while neighbors dedicated resources to prevent that from happening in Brentwood, Los Angeles. It was arduous, exhausting, and expensive. But Archer parents always supported us, some taking off work to petition our council members, raise money for lawyers, gather signatures from neighborhood supporters. Gary was one of those ardent supportive parents.
The second phase of Archer School’s journey began in 2012 with the athletes. It’s based on the belief that every girl needs a chance to learn, to challenge herself, to compete. For many that means team sports. No small feat, because Archer has no gym.
The Archer School – with a student body of 500 girls now enrolled – is racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse, and has done incredibly well in team sports: volleyball, basketball, soccer, and track and field. With NO GYM, the girls have to be bussed to practice and some even change into uniforms in the hallways. For most schools, a gym is not a luxury, but a basic and necessary component. This has become even more true – as a society we’ve come to understand the linkage between sports and academic and social/emotional development.
What makes Archer extraordinary is not only the diversity of the student body (41 percent students of color, 157 feeder schools, 76 zip codes), nor the percentage of graduates who go on to college (100 percent) – many to elite “Ivies” or highly competitive public universities like UC Berkeley and UCLA. Nor is it accomplished alumnae (the oldest of whom is only 39) who are changing the world as NASA engineers, physicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, and singers. It’s all of this, plus the fact that they are engaged in doing good work, supportive of one another, sisters. In other words, team players.
Gary – himself a gifted athlete and a father and partner to a co-founder of the school – invested a big piece of his fortune into making the Archer dream come true. Because he genuinely believed in the cause. He believed what his daughters said as pre-teens: Girls can do anything. Or maybe they said that because that’s what they’d been told from the moment they could talk.
In 2013, our daughters lost their father and I lost my life-long partner when Gary died from brain cancer. Because of his enthusiastic support and his passionate belief that sports are as important for girls as they are for boys, the Archer Board of Trustees decided that the gymnasium the school planned to build should be named the Gary David Goldberg Gym.
Archer started a campaign to raise money, the gifts were generous and welcome but not enough to reach our goal. But like a strong team, we can see the destination and are all working together toward the goal.
The 10-year anniversary of Gary’s death – the target date for our 37 million fundraising goal, is only four months away. Gary’s pals from Brooklyn, with whom he never lost touch, are being asked to step up to help. His cousin, a Hollywood casting director, is contacting actors Gary championed over his long career; I’m reaching out to neighbors, friends, and family. And now I’m wondering if Montecito, a community Gary fell and remained in love with until the very end, would join this team effort to support the incredible and deserving girls at Archer as they strive to reach this important goal? Thank you for your consideration. And… Go team!
Please give online at archer.org/gdggym or make checks payable to The Archer School for Girls (memo: Gary David Goldberg Gym) and mail to: 11725 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049.