John B. Goering: Bearcat Forever

(October 3, 1933 – February 7, 2021)

John GoeringInscribed on the southeast corner of University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business is a name. A permanent tribute to a man who was said to bleed red and black.

Those who knew him best described John B. Goering as a man of great value and values. A man of remarkable character, integrity, and a tremendous sense of purpose. A family man. Thoughtful, generous, and disciplined. A Bearcat forever.

His UC Love Story

In 1952, John enrolled in UC’s College of Business. There, he met the love of his life, Gloria, who was studying home economics. The pair were engaged during John’s senior year and married that fall. They would be married for 55 years, raising two children, Stuart and Susan, and enjoying seven grandchildren, before Gloria passed.

Shortly after marrying, John accepted a position with the college to teach accounting. He would serve as a professor in the college until 1981 while simultaneously acting as University Registrar and Associate Vice President of Admissions and Records from 1967 to 1975. An incredible feat, to be sure.

John also would serve as president of the UC Alumni Association and UC Foundation trustee, earning eight distinguished service awards from UC, including the William Howard Taft Medal for Notable Achievement as well as an honorary doctorate of commercial science.

“I don’t think you could find many people who care as deeply for the university and the Cincinnati community as John did,” said Marianne Lewis, dean of the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. “He was such a positive driver and treasured advisor. I’m deeply grateful for his impact and inspiration.”

“He was a Bearcat, through and through,” said Sidney Barton, PhD, John and Gloria Goering Professor of Family and Private Business, Department of Management. “If it weren’t for John, we would not have a dedicated center for family and private businesses.”

The Center with the Family Name

John GoeringIn the 1980s, while working in his family’s meat-packing plant, John observed a conflict between his father and uncle. Their unequal partnership and resulting discord planted a seed of curiosity in John about how family businesses addressed relational challenges. From there, the family business center idea germinated.

In 1985, John met with Leonard Arnoff, former dean of the Carl H.  Lindner College of Business, to discuss the idea. After a community survey revealed the lack of family business-focused programs, they got to work laying the foundation for the Goering Center for Family and Private Business.

“They needed a faculty member to serve as a university sponsor and to fill the executive director role,” explained Barton, whose background in private business made him the natural fit. “We had a few initial goals: we wanted to establish value by creating a program that was self-sustaining, and we wanted to make it affordable. John felt particularly strong about the second.”

From trips to Georgia to gain insights from a model program at Kennesaw State to establishing the center as a 501(c)(3) to filming a Sunday-morning TV program, the pair pursued several strategies to ensure success of the center.

“John and Sid were really a dynamic duo getting the center off the ground,” Lewis said.

“When John established the Goering Center, there were some founding principles that John really wanted to be enduring. One of those principles was to always do what is in the best interests of our core members – the family and private businesses in our Cincinnati region. John lived that,” said Larry Grypp, former president of the Goering Center.

Today, the Goering Center has grown to become America’s largest university-based educational resource for family and private businesses. It now serves more than 400 family and private businesses with nearly a dozen staff members and more than 200 volunteers.

“There is no denying that our mission to serve families is an important one,” John wrote on the center’s website. “Family and private businesses are a significant economic driver in the community and a source of growth in employment across our region. The ultimate goal of the Goering Center is to see people succeed in both their family and business life, thus moving forward in their journey.”

Saying ‘Thank You’

John GoeringHow do you recognize a man like John Goering?

It’s a question Carol Butler has explored frequently as president of the Goering Center. In 2018, she executed the perfect tribute.

“It was my first year emceeing our annual awards ceremony,” Butler said. “John had just retired from the board, and we were trying to figure out how to honor his legacy.”

A lecture hall within the college already had been named for him and Gloria, and plans were in progress to carve his name into a wall outside the building – to become the only name besides “Lindner” on the outer wall – but Carol wanted to do more.

A big idea was born – to surprise John during an upcoming event with the UC marching band. Butler started at the top, contacting the Chair of UC’s Board of Trustees, the UC President and finally the Director of Bearcat Bands.

On September 11, 2018, nearly 700 people gathered in a banquet hall in downtown Cincinnati to celebrate the Goering Center’s 19th annual award winners.

“It was after John’s third standing ovation of the evening when more than 250 UC band members crept toward the door,” Butler remembers. “I said, ‘John, for this next thing, I completely ignored what you asked me to do.’”

She then gleefully said, “Christopher, strike up the band!”

With that, the band came pouring in.

“John’s face was priceless,” Butler said. “Just complete joy.”

John will be remembered for many things: His vision and passion for family and private business, his impact on the community, and his investment in time, energy, and treasure at the university he loved – which loved him back.

UC Impact

John’s leadership and generosity was felt across the university. Some highlights of his service and generosity include:

  • John was also one of the longest-serving trustees in UC Foundation history (1986-2014).
  • In 2015, he received the Chairman Award, the UC Foundation’s highest recognition for a volunteer who has made a noteworthy, university-wide philanthropic impact.
  • He helped to create UCATS and received his Black Blazer in 2000, UC Athletics’ highest honor.
  • Together with his brothers, John created the Albert W. Goering Memorial Scholarship to honor his father.