Marilyn Goldman: A mentor for life

by | Apr 20, 2023 | Other News

Susan Horton, Marilyn Goldman, and Terri Denison in 2017.

With a personality as fiery as her signature red hair, Marilyn Wall Goldman was my first real boss and mentor, and then, my colleague and friend.
In the summer of 1978, Dean Goldman suggested I call his mom, as I was looking for a summer internship and she was the editor of Tidewater Virginian, a business magazine owned by the area chambers of commerce.  She hired me for the grand sum of $100 per month, though I also received college credit and learned more than any paycheck mattered.  Home from Washington, DC for a visit in January of 1980, I contacted Marilyn to have lunch . . . just to catch up. Marilyn turned that Smith & Welton Tea Room lunch into a five-hour meeting where she talked me into joining the magazine staff as assistant editor.
My mom, Helen Koltun, never shy about anything that concerned me, phoned Marilyn to thank her and tell her it was one of her happiest days as I had been steadfast about living in D.C. and certainly not returning to Norfolk.
Convincing me to leave D.C. is just a small example of her persuasive powers.
Marilyn knew how to conduct an interview and write a compelling story and how to coach other writers.  She was never satisfied with the status quo and found new sources of revenue to expand the magazine, which was the basis for the now Richmond-based Virginia Business magazine. Establishing relationships with artists, photographers, advertising agencies, and printers were part of her job, and she did them all well. And she taught me how to do it all. In fact, some of Marilyn’s techniques I continue to employ today.
In addition to the magazine, Marilyn took on social justice causes and brought me along to living room meetings and hotel ballroom events. Just in my early 20s, Marilyn sent me to meet and mingle with the movers and shakers of the day. Her confidence of my abilities instilled some in me.
Ironically, prior to joining Tidewater Virginian, Marilyn served as editor of what is now Jewish News. When I became editor of Jewish News, on several occasions she wrote articles at my request and offered up suggestions of topics for special sections on her own.
Our birthdays were always met with lunch celebrations, sometimes with our friend, Susan Horton, who also worked at Tidewater Virginian.
No matter her age (or mine), Marilyn was always free with her advice and her interest in what was happening in my life, as well as in my daughters’.  Of course, it’s easy to listen to praise for your children’s accomplishments, but Marilyn had a way of being “official” about it, from an expert point-of-view, making it feel honest.
One never knows how that special person, that mentor, will appear and how long the connection will last and what that person’s impact will be.
Marilyn taught me how to be an editor and she brought me back home. I’m grateful she was in life until Friday, April 14 when she passed away at 94.
-Terri Denison