Jeffrey Goldsmith 
(MS ’95)

All people, including the timid, the brilliant, and the free-spirited, were welcome at the home of Jeffrey Goldsmith (MS ’95). Every Monday and Saturday for more than three decades, he brought out his personal collection of 1,000 board games and encouraged friends to play. 

Yet, the real joy for Goldsmith was the community he created. “Everyone fit in at his house,” says friend Alison Maker. 

Maker’s spouse, Dave Dickie, was Goldsmith’s roommate and JPL coworker in the mid-1980s, when game nights began. At first, the lifelong friends welcomed colleagues to the gatherings. After Goldsmith began studying computer science at Caltech, he invited fellow students as well.

Goldsmith created an environment where people could be themselves, and Caltech offered him the same, Dickie says. “He was happy at Caltech because he was with his intellectual equals.”

Bridge was Goldsmith’s other passion. He was active in the Caltech Bridge Club, first as a player and later as a volunteer coach. He even became a bridge grand master, one of the highest ranks in the card game, and helped others achieve that title.

Goldsmith had lived with cancer for three years when the disease began to spread aggressively. Maker and Dickie helped him fulfill his bucket list, from seeing violinist Lindsey Stirling in concert to attending the Gathering of Friends, a major, invitation-only gaming event. Goldsmith also visited Saratoga Springs, New York, to see the famed race course and take a dip in the area’s mineral springs. 

After Goldsmith died in October 2021, Maker, who is an attorney, also ensured that her friend’s estate went to Caltech. The bequest came with no restrictions because Goldsmith trusted his alma mater, Dickie says.

“Jeff wanted his gift to be a good investment,” Dickie says. “If you really want to make a difference and push the limits of technology and science, there’s no better place to send your money.”