For family and shops, a death leaves void

Hit-run victim's kindness recalled

Jane Goodman during her arraignment yesterday in the death of a pedestrian. Jane Goodman during her arraignment yesterday in the death of a pedestrian. (IMAGE VIA WBZ-TV)
Email|Print| Text size + By John C. Drake
Globe Staff / November 30, 2007

NEEDHAM - For shoppers and retailers on a small commercial strip along Route 135 here, Michael Dorfman, 67, was the kindly clerk who patiently measured children's feet and gave them a lollipop as they left Michelson's Shoes.

Authorities say Dorfman was in a crosswalk when he was fatally struck by a Saab driven by Jane Goodman, 72, of Dedham around 6 p.m. Wednesday. He had just left work and was steps away from his Mazda sedan, which was still parked near the intersection yesterday afternoon.

Goodman was arrested in Wellesley after witnesses provided a description of the car.

She pleaded not guilty in Dedham District Court yesterday to charges of motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, leaving the scene of an incident causing personal injury and death, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. She was released on $20,000 bail, and her license was revoked.

Michael Dorfman's widow, Elinor, said there was no excuse for the driver not to stop after striking her husband, who also leaves two adult daughters and two grandchildren.

"She should get just what she deserves," Elinor Dorfman said yesterday at her Framingham home. "She took the best thing in my life in one minute."

Michael Dorfman, who worked for about 20 years as a buyer for Zayre, the former retail chain, more recently worked part time selling shoes at Michelson's, a popular Needham store.

"He was a fixture," said Lisa McGill, co-owner of Chrislee Boutique, a clothing store on the street. "He was just a lovely gentleman. It's a true loss to the whole community."

Elinor Dorfman, who works as a secretary at a dentist's office, said her husband was "very kind and generous."

"Anyone who needed a favor, he was right there," she said.

Dorfman loved spending time with his children and grandchildren, ages 12 and 15, his relatives said. "He was a great grandfather and father-in-law," said Mike Trayer, Dorfman's son-in-law. "He went to every sporting event. He lived for the kids."

Trayer, who attended Goodman's court hearing yesterday morning, said he felt sad for her.

"You feel bad for everybody," Trayer said. "They lose, too. I don't think anybody meant to kill anybody."

No one answered the door or the phone at Goodman's Dedham home, a gray house situated among several much larger, newer homes.

Goodman's Dedham lawyer, John Gibbons, did not return calls seeking comment.

Several shopkeepers said the intersection is notoriously busy and potentially dangerous for pedestrians. "Cars are starting to speed up because it's after the last traffic light," said Bic White, owner of Read and White, a tuxedo shop. "We've seen some close calls there."

According to television reports of Goodman's arraignment, prosecutors said she continued driving to Wellesley with a cracked windshield despite realizing that her car had struck something. She was arrested near Massachusetts Bay Community College in Wellesley.

"She ruined our life," Elinor Dorfman said.

"He loved his kids, and his family, and his Red Sox, and his life was taken away in a minute," she said. "In one minute, he was gone."

John C. Drake can be reached at

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