Jesuit Father Robert A. Goebel died April 7, 2015, at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center Infirmary in Los Gatos, California. He was 89.
The fifth of six children, Fr. Goebel was born on Nov. 12, 1925, in Seattle to Leo and Margaret (Katzer) Goebel. He grew up in Granite Falls, Washington, on a small dairy farm and knew well the hardships of life from the Great Depression. Fr. Goebel graduated from Granite Falls High School in 1942 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy on his 17th birthday. He proudly served from 1942 to 1947. After his military duties he studied at Seattle University; to pay tuition and living expenses Fr. Goebel worked as a waiter in upscale Seattle restaurants and received many accolades for his impeccable service.
In August 1950, he entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Sheridan, Oregon. Fr. Goebel followed the regular course of Jesuit formation studies and teaching experiences and was ordained a priest on June 15, 1963, in Spokane. From 1964 to 1970 Fr. Goebel taught and administered at Seattle Preparatory School; then he transferred to Gonzaga Preparatory for 10 years of the same ministry. In 1980, Loyola Sacred Heart High School in Missoula, Montana, sought him out as their principal for a four-year term. He returned to Gonzaga Prep in 1985 for 18 years and served the many alumni of the school as a chaplain and friend. Fr. Goebel lent his talents to Bellarmine Preparatory for five years (2003 to 2008); a serious stroke and other health concerns brought him back to Spokane to join his brother Jesuits in their ministry of prayer for the church and world.
As his health continued to decline and the Spokane Infirmary was slated for closure, it was decided to transfer Fr. Goebel to the Jesuit Infirmary in Los Gatos. When apprised of this impending move, he said to the Jesuit Provincial, “Send me where you need me to go. When I signed up for this life I promised to go wherever the Provincial decided. And that’s what I will do.”
Fr. Goebel is survived by his sister Joan Flowerbird and sister-in-law Corrine Goebel (widow of his brother Donald). He was preceded in death by his brothers Noman, Leo, and Donald, and his sister Margaret Mary. There are several nieces, nephews, and cousins as well.