George Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, Alumnus and Honorary Degree Recipient, Dies at 97
George Evans Goodwin Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and public relations executive who received an honorary doctor of letters from W&L in 1997, died on Jan. 21 at his home in Atlanta. A member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1939, he began his career as a newspaper reporter with The Atlanta Georgian and eventually moved to The Atlanta Journal. In 1947, he wrote a series of articles on voter fraud in the Georgia governor’s race, which won him the first Pulitzer Prize in the category of Distinguished Local Reporting. The award was also the first Pulitzer for The Atlanta Journal.
Goodwin left the newspaper business and served as executive director of Central Atlanta Improvement Association, now Central Atlanta Progress, from 1952 to 1954. From 1954 to 1964, he served as a vice president of The First National Bank of Atlanta.
In 1965, Goodwin opened the Atlanta office of Bell and Stanton Public Relations, headquartered in New York. Later Manning, Selvage & Lee, and now known as MS&L Worldwide, it was Atlanta’s first national public relations firm, and continues to serve many prominent Atlanta companies. Goodwin was a member of the Public Relations Hall of Fame at the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and in 2012 was inducted into the Atlanta Press Club’s Hall of Fame. His contributions to the PR industry are memorialized by two awards in his name: MS&L’s grant for community service and the award for volunteer service from the Georgia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
Goodwin was an active civic leader, instrumental in forming the Atlanta Arts Alliance, chairing the city’s observance of the nation’s bicentennial, and championing the racial integration of the public libraries in 1959. He led the Forward Atlanta project to revitalize the city’s downtown in the 1960s, and was one of the sponsors of the historic Atlanta dinner honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after King received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. Goodwin also played a major role in creating MARTA, Atlanta’s public transit system. As noted in an obituary prepared by his family, “Be it planning for growth and development; sustaining libraries and the arts; promoting philanthropy; improving education; advancing race relations or encouraging civic responsibility, George Goodwin was a force for progress and understanding.”