On Saturday, Laura, my father, and I attended a memorial service for Kenneth Wingood, Sr. Ken and his wife Alma sent three children to Hyde: Ken ’71, Harold ’74, and Joanne Goubourn ‘75, Executive Director of the Hyde Foundation. (He also had two grandchildren graduate: Joanne’s children Kevin ’97 and Lauren ’01.)
Laura fondly remembers Mr. Wingood standing on the sidelines rallying the softball team – in good times and bad (She also remembers that the former was in very short supply.) – on which she and Joanne were teammates. Being a self-appointed amateur Hyde historian and having gone to school with Ken, Harold, and Joanne, I remember the Wingoods as a ground-breaking Hyde family. Not only were they Hyde’s first African-American family, Joanne was among the initial cohort of 18 brave girls in 1971 who kicked off co-education at Hyde.
On one level, Mr. Wingood’s life might not appear to have been out of the ordinary. After serving his country in Korea, he studied mechanical engineering at Boston’s Northeastern U. and Wentworth Institute before working as a tool engineer at three different greater Boston companies. He was active in a number of social causes, including the Merrimack Valley branch of the NAACP where he was a Life Member. Furthermore, his sense of spirituality led him to become an ordained minister in the Church of Spiritual Life in Methuen, MA, the very same church where we all assembled for the memorial service in his honor.
Upon first glance, the congregation in the church reflected a predictable and seemingly ordinary composition: family, friends, church, community (Lowell, MA), Hyde, NAACP, etc. However, as the crowd gathered, I became conscious of something unexpected, something that was anything but ordinary.
Simply put, I cannot recall ever being in a gathering of Americans that was as racially integrated as the one I joined that morning. God knows, I’ve been in all sorts of social and professional gatherings that have been decidedly white. I’ve also been in a number where I was among a handful of whites, especially since Hyde got involved in urban public charter schools – a development due in no small part to Joanne Goubourn, Kenneth Wingood’s daughter.
Although I didn’t count, the memorial service for Kenneth Wingood was as close to 50-50 as I’ve experienced. If it is indeed true that the measure of one’s life can be assessed according to who shows up at your funeral, Mr. Wingood leaves behind a very rich legacy. In fact, it’s pretty cool when your memorial service stands as a living reflection of the way life should be.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld