CLEVELAND — The Cleveland forecast calls for a 100 percent chance of sadness. Weatherman Dick Goddard, one of Northeast Ohio's most beloved television personalities, died Tuesday at 89 years old, his daughter, Kimberly, confirmed to Fox 8 Cleveland.

"My HERO, my DADDY, THE GREATEST ANIMAL LOVER is now an ANGEL," she wrote on Facebook.

Known for his self-effacing humor and his expert grasp of tricky Cleveland weather patterns, the genial, soft-spoken Goddard had been a local news fixture since May 1961. Most of his weather forecasting was done for WJW Channel 8, where he was considered such a vital part of the evening newscasts, his nickname in the halls of the station became "the Franchise."

"That wasn't without good reason," said Kevin Salyer, Channel's 8 vice president for programming and promotion. "You can't underestimate the trust factor. I know there are people in this area who do not go to bed until Dick tells them the sun will come up tomorrow."

Although often described as one of the most trusted figures in the history of Cleveland broadcasting, Goddard was fond of relating experiences where the joke was on him. There was the angry call from the viewer who told Goddard on a wintry Cleveland day that he'd "just shoveled six inches of your partly cloudy out of my driveway."

There was the letter from the youngster who informed him that, "We have to watch you every night, even when there is a good program on." And there were his infamous slips of the tongue, like the time he tried to say "cold air mass" and it came out, "cold mare's ass."

"The worst was during the 1989 Jerry Lewis Telethon, when I tried to say Stouffer's Tower City Plaza," Goddard told The Plain Dealer in 2011. (Tower came out "sour," and the t came along later.)

Listing the top reasons to be a television meteorologist, Goddard joked that, "You can never get lost – people are always telling you where to go." Being a weather forecaster, he would say, was being part of "a non-prophet organization."

But with his quiet authority and folksy humor, Goddard was the meteorologist Cleveland turned to, decade after decade, to navigate storm paths, jet streams and, yes, cold air masses. Breaking into the business at a time when many weathermen clowned their way through the forecasts, Goddard adopted a down-to-earth approach to conditions in the stratosphere.

"You must realize that people take their weather very seriously around here," the "dean of Cleveland meteorologists" said when his first book, "Dick Goddard's Weather Guide for Northeast Ohio," was published in 1998. "There are some markets, like Phoenix or San Diego, where the weather person has almost nothing to talk about. But we're in a latitude where weather is knocking on the door almost every day."

An Akron native, Goddard was born on Feb. 24, 1931. An only child, he remained close to his parents, personally and geographically. His father died of a heart attack in 1971. His mother died in 1996.

For the first 10 years of his life, the family lived in Akron, on Firestone Blvd. The Goddards moved to a small farm in Green in 1941.

A Green High School graduate, Goddard received his earliest weather training in the Air Force. During his Air Force career, Goddard was selected for a task group accompanying the Atomic Energy Commission on the March 1954 H-bomb detonation in the Pacific Islands. "It was there that I caught a glimpse of hell," he said. "I peered, along with half a dozen other Air Force meteorologists, into the pre-dawn pitch blackness toward the atoll of Bikini . . . Suddenly, at H- Hour, the sky to the east blossomed into the brightest high noon of summer."

Returning to Akron when his stint was up in 1955, Goddard spent five years with the National Weather Service, working during most of that time toward a fine arts degree at Kent State University.

His job with the Weather Service was to broadcast reports from Akron-Canton Regional Airport. Receiving his degree in fine arts from Kent State in 1960, Goddard flirted with the idea of becoming a cartoonist or illustrator.

If the prevailing breezes had been blowing in the right direction, he might have followed up on a phone call inviting him to a job interview with the Walt Disney Studios. But not wanting to leave his mother, father and grandmother behind in Northeast Ohio, Goddard listened to an offer from a Cleveland station executive intrigued by his experience broadcasting for the Weather Service from the airport.

Goddard signed a contract to forecast the weather at KYW Channel 3 (now WKYC). He made his television debut on May 1, 1961.

His first competitors in the Cleveland market were Carolyn Johnson at WEWS Channel 5 and Howard Hoffmann at WJW Channel 8.

When he put his signature to that contract, John F. Kennedy had been president for less than four months, "Gunsmoke," "Wagon Train" and "Have Gun, Will Travel" were television's highest-rated shows, and Americans were discussing the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

"I've flown in a hurricane," Goddard told The Plain Dealer in 2011. "I was on that first H-bomb test. At 12, a tornado came by the farm in Green. I've flown upside down with the Thunderbirds.

That was no big deal. But the first time I went on the air, I was so nervous, my voice went up enough octaves to make Frankie Valli sound like he was singing bass."

He had a 13-week contract, no television experience and a news director who didn't believe weather should be part of a newscast. To make matters worse, Goddard's debut featured the first of many infamous slips of the tongue known as Spoonerisms.

Discussing a weather legend, he tried to tell viewers about croaking frogs. It came out "froaking crogs."

"I was bad and I know it," Goddard said. "In retrospect, I think the viewers saved me. They felt sorry enough to call in and say, 'Don't take him off. He's so pitifully bad, he's entertaining.' "

That was hardly the secret to Goddard's success. He survived that terrifying start, building confidence as he built up trust with Northeast Ohio television viewers. And trust is a good place to start when explaining his durability and popularity.

"Dick is simply the most beloved and trusted personality in the history of Cleveland television, period," said Tim Taylor, the anchor who worked with Goddard at WJW Channel 8 for almost 30 years. "To have lasted so long in a business that's changed so much over the years is a testament to the fact that there is not a phony bone in his body. What you see is what you get. What comes through the lens is his innate kindness to both people and animals."

Taylor, who retired in 2005, also believes that chemistry had something to do with Goddard's success – he was the right weatherman for the right town.

"Once you make it in Cleveland, if you enjoy your time here and don't have aspirations beyond here, the people accept you and take you to their hearts," Taylor said in 2011. "You have a job for life here. We billed the Channel 8 news team as Cleveland's Own, but Dick truly is Cleveland's Treasured Own."

Always eager to learn more about weather patterns and storm systems, Goddard flew aboard an airplane into the eye of Flora, the 1963 hurricane that became one of history's deadliest.

Goddard's historic run on Cleveland television was briefly interrupted in 1965 when he agreed to move to Philadelphia. He couldn't warm up to the City of Brotherly Love, however, and he was back in Cleveland after a few months.

In 1966, Goddard signed with Channel 8, where he remained for more than 50 years. Everybody talks about the weather, but when Goddard was talking about it, people in Northeast Ohio listened.

National surveys by the Herb Altman Communications Research company twice rated him the most popular weather forecaster in America. The January 2001 edition of Ohio Magazine named him "Ohio's Best Meteorologist."

"I wasn't Dick Goddard's competition," said Al Roker, the "Today" show weatherman who was at Channel 3 in the late '70s and early '80s. "I was just in the same market at the same time. Cleveland was Dick Goddard's town."

Although greatly impressed by Roker's work at Channel 3, Goddard named longtime Channel 5 meteorologist Don Webster as his favorite competitor.

Goddard used his weather spots and his annual Woollybear Festival to remind pet owners to get their dogs and cats spade or neutered. A tireless champion for pet adoption, his Pet Parade feature on Channel 8 found homes for countless dogs and cats.

"Once, a kitten got loose before one show and was lost in the station for two days," Goddard recalled. "We found her in just about the last place we could have looked: the extensive videotape rack."

Held each year in Vermilion, Goddard's Woollybear Festival was Ohio's largest single-day festival.

A rabid sports fan, he enjoyed serving for 32 years as the football statistician for the Cleveland Browns radio broadcasts.

In the 1960s, Goddard was a regular member of the Ghoulardi All-Stars, the amateur softball and basketball teams featuring Channel 8 celebrities and off-camera employees. Indeed, Ernie Anderson, the announcer who played horror host Ghoulardi and organized the All-Stars, took credit for the station hiring Goddard.

As Anderson told the story, he was so impressed by the way Goddard played third base for Channel 3's team, he lobbied Channel 8 to bring him on board as Channel 8\u2032s weatherman. So, according to the man who was Ghoulardi, Goddard joined the station on an "athletic scholarship."

Goddard also never gave up his interest in art, and his delightful cartoons appeared in such books as "Dick Goddard's Weather Guide for Northeast Ohio" and the regularly updated "Dick Goddard's Almanac for Northeast Ohio." In 2011, the year he celebrated his 80th birthday and his 50th year on the air, Goddard's memoir, "Six Inches of Partly Cloudy," was published by Cleveland's Gray & Co.

He often talked of his admiration for Mark Twain's writing, and his love of humor sometimes was exploited by his pal Chuck Schodowski, who would draft Goddard for a "Big Chuck and Lil John" comedy sketch.

"Back in the '80s and into the '90s, when we'd have news consultants come in, they always were stunned to see how incredibly popular Dick was," Salyer said of the durable meteorologist, cartoonist, author and animal activist. "If you're not from here, you don't get it. I remember one of these guys pointing at the top of a screen and saying, 'Now, your big-time guys are here.' Then he put his hand way over the top of the screen, in the air, and said, 'Dick Goddard is here.' That's how you explain Dick's popularity in this area. He's off the chart."

Goddard's fight to protect animals was so passionate, state legislation to reform animal abuse laws, House Bill 60, was dubbed "Goddard's Law." The bill would make it a fifth-degree felony to knowingly cause harm to a companion animal.It passed the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority in 2013, but, as of 2016, had yet to pass the Ohio Senate.

"The affection for animals is genuine," Goddard said. "I have great respect for quadrupeds. It is the carbon-based mammalian bipeds that are the problem on this planet."

In December 2014, at the age of 83, Goddard re-upped his contract with Channel 8, signing a new two-year deal.

"Dick Goddard remains both a legend and fixture here at Fox 8 and on Cleveland television," Salyer said at the time. "Northeast Ohioans obviously still have trust in him, his expertise and his many years of experience as evidenced by our continued dominance in ratings and how – when the weather gets bad – Cleveland still turns to Goddard and his Fox 8 weather team. The trio of Dick Goddard, Northeast Ohio weather and Cleveland's own Fox 8 are about as synonymous as you can get, and that's the way it will remain."

It's the way it remained for a remarkable 55-year run, during which Goddard saw countless changes in TV and forecasting technology.

"We started out using chalk, chalking the map for every broadcast," Goddard told The Plain Dealer before turning 80 (that's only 27 Celsius, he was quick to point out). "After four years of that, I was on the verge of white lung disease."

Over the decades, the chalk was replaced by tempera paint, wide-tipped pens, magnets and computer-generated screens.

"Technology, without question, has been the biggest change," Goddard said. "These computers are just incredible. There's no such thing as a guaranteed forecast, but the forecasts have become much more accurate. But if you want to be accurate as a weatherman, go to San Diego or Yuma. You seldom miss."

What didn't change was Goddard's grasp of tricky Cleveland weather patterns.

"If you're doing weather in Cleveland, and you're working with Goddard, you have to consider yourself tremendously blessed," said meteorologist Andre Bernier, who joined the Channel 8 weather team in 1988. "You couldn't ask for a better teacher, or a nicer one. The two things he taught me: Have a thick skin and, because the weather here is so quirky, pay attention to your gut based on experience. And Dick, of course, has more experience than anyone in that regard."

But Goddard slowed down a step or two as he moved into his 80s. He cut back his time on the air. And, for five weeks before his 82nd birthday, he was off their air because of knee replacement surgery. By then, he was an old hand at knee replacement. He'd had the other knee done 18 years before. Bernier, who has been with Channel 8 since 1988, filled in for him.

By 2016, after 50 years with Channel 8, the 85-year-old Goddard had greatly reduced his on air- time as a weather forecaster. In May of that month, WJW announced that Goddard would be stepping away from meteorological duties that November.

"For 55 years I've been doing the weather and I'm gonna keep doing it as we go into November," Goddard told viewers at the time. "At that point, I'm gonna step away from the weather maps and we're getting into total animal welfare."

Or, as Channel 8 news director Andy Fishman put it, "He has seen his shadow, so we get six more months of Goddard's forecast."

It was a long shadow, to be sure, and Goddard emphasized his continuing presence as an advocate for animal welfare, rescue and adoption. His left the weather duties at the time to Melissa Myers, Bernier, Scott Sabol and A.J. Colby.

"In six months I'll be going into hiding, but come out on the other side as an animal advocate," Goddard said. "We've got to help the four-foots."

"It's almost impossible to measure what Dick Goddard has meant to Fox8, what he has meant to the people of Northeast Ohio and what he has meant to the pets of Northeast Ohio," Fishman said.

His relationship with the public was mostly sunny, but there were storm clouds in his private life. A first marriage ended in divorce.

Tragedy struck in 1996 when his mother, Doris, died within two weeks of Julie Ann Cashel, his girlfriend for more than 20 years. Close friends described "Miss Julie" as "the love of his life."

And in June 2003, police were summoned to the Medina Township home of Goddard and his second wife, Amber, whom he had married in December 1997.

The Goddards had met during a fund-raising event for the Medina County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Amber Goddard was arrested and charged with assaulting her husband. Goddard, who did not require medical attention, said at the time that he never intended for his wife to be arrested and asked prosecutors to dismiss the domestic-violence case against her, but they would not honor his request.

She denied she was guilty and enrolled in a six-month court-supervised counseling program for first-time offenders.

The Goddards were estranged for six months when the TV weatherman asked Medina County Domestic Relations Judge Mary Kovack to close his divorce trial and seal the court record. His reasons were that a messy public divorce would ruin his career and permanently damage his reputation.

It was a rare request in Ohio, where courts are presumed to be open and the records belong to the public. In a written plea, Goddard claimed that his estranged wife, who was 25 years younger, planned to hurt his reputation and public persona with "gratuitous" allegations unless he agreed to concessions. "Their mere utterance," he said, could ruin his name and career.

He withdrew the request, and, in December 2003, the couple agreed to stipulate they were incompatible. They were divorced in July 2004. They remained friends, however, and showed up together at the January 2008 annual Walk for Epilepsy in Strongsville.

Although Goddard worked for decades to protect Northeast Ohioans from dangerous weather, a May 2014 storm nearly cost him his life in May 2014.

The 83-year-old Goddard was caught in a flash flood near his Medina Township home. He was one of two people rescued after fast-rising water nearly submerged their cars on the southbound exit to Ohio 3 from Interstate 71. The water soon shut down the power in his car.

Goddard placed a 911 call and waited. He was trapped for about 45 minutes before being rescued. By the time rescuers arrived in a rubber boat, the water in his car was up to his neck. He was taken to Medina Hospital and treated for hypothermia.

"Don't underestimate the power of water," he told Channel 8 viewers.

Goddard is survived by his daughter, Kimberly, who lives in Florida, where he spent part of the year after retiring from Channel 8.

"I'm still working on the last chapter," he said while working on his memoirs. "I know I'm going to use the Grantland Rice verse that perfectly summarizes a weatherman's lot on life: 'And now among the fading embers, These in the main, are my regrets, When I am right no one remembers,

When I am wrong no one forgets.' "

TV viewers remembered him far more kindly.

"The best thing about doing the weather is that you're recognized," Goddard told an interviewer in the late '90s. "People are so good to you – so nice. I would miss that. You think you don't have an ego until people don't recognize you."

Goddard rarely had to worry about that. Most people recognized him, and most recognized him as a friend – a trusted friend.

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