County Faces: Rick Goodwin of Houlton

6 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Dr. Rick Goodwin has helped people see clearly for 40 years.

Goodwin, a native of Houlton, says he has been blessed to have the support of a loving family, co-workers and the many generations of patients he has cared for during his four-decade tenure as an optometrist in the town.

“My father Robert was an optometrist and moved back to Houlton in the 1950s to start his own business,” Goodwin recalled. “He is really the reason that I am here. He was the one who got me interested in taking science courses at the University of Maine.”

Although his father served as an optometrist for many years, Goodwin said he never felt pressured by his father to join the family business and never even considered that as a career choice in his younger years.

“I was studying mechanical engineering, but I really didn’t care for it,” Goodwin said. “My dad suggested I take some animal sciences, like biology, to see if I liked it. That is what he did, and next thing I knew I was going to optometry school.”

The son of Robert and Madeleine Goodwin, Dr. Goodwin attended an optometry school in Boston for four years, and quickly discovered that city life was not for him.

“I was married at the time and we had a small child,” he said. “The first couple of years were quite an adjustment. I was a County person at heart. I am so glad I moved back in 1978 and never looked back.”

Goodwin said he can still fondly recall his first day of work, in partnership with his father. He saw exactly two patients before his wife at the time went into labor with their second child. He spent  seven years working with his father before his dad was forced into retirement at an early age to the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Staying in business for 40 years has had its challenges, he said. Especially with so many changes to insurance regulations and computer technology advancements.

Goodwin credits much of his success to his wife Jody, who serves as the office manager for his practice.

“Private practices are becoming dinosaurs,” he said. “Most physicians work for hospitals or groups. There is so much more to staying in business than just optometry. I wouldn’t be here without her.”

Brian Shaw joined Goodwin as part of the practice’s eyeglass laboratory. “A lot of our success over the years was due to Brian and the quality glasses we make,” he said.

Carla McPartland has also played a large role with the practice, spending nearly 30 years working for Dr. Goodwin.

Goodwin said he has provided care for five generations in Houlton. At 66 years old, Goodwin said he may cut back on the amount of days he works, but has no plans to retire anytime soon.

“I love what I do too much to do that,” he said. “It’s really gone by quickly. Plus it keeps my mind busy. I’m very fortunate.”

The Goodwins reside in Houlton. He has four adult children (Zachary, Benjamin, Gabriel and Alexis). Three of those children reside in the Houlton area. He also has six grandchildren.