Brian Goralski, former Southington BOE chair, dies after battle with cancer

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SOUTHINGTON — Former Board of Education chairman Brian Goralski, a school leader praised by his colleagues, died Wednesday.

Goralski spent a dozen years as school board chairman and 20 years on the board in total. He chose not to run for reelection in 2019.

Bob Brown, a Board of Education member, is a former Southington High School social studies teacher and had Goralski as a student. Brown said it was special to serve with Goralski on the board.

“I’ve known Brian since he was 15 years old,” Brown said. “He was a good man. He did a lot for our kids. He was honest and straight-forward and tough and he had a lot of integrity.”

Goralski worked for Meriden Public Schools. Education was Goralski’s life, Brown said.

For many of his chairman years, Goralski worked with former Southington school superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. Brown said that Erardi, now living in Florida, took a flight to Connecticut to visit Goralski during his final days.

“It really says something about the job that Brian did,” Brown said.

Brown and Goralski last saw each other in July. Brown said he was in good spirits and the two discussed brain tumors, which they both have. Brown’s isn’t cancerous while Goralski’s was.

“A life well lived but cut too short,” Brown said of Goralski. “You keep him alive in your heart and your mind and your work.”

‘Courage of a lion’

Terri Carmody, school board chairwoman, succeeded Goralski and worked with him on the board for 14 years. She described Goralski as a dear friend and said Thursday that her heart was broken to hear of the 53-year old’s death.

“I can’t even express how much I’m going to miss him,” she said. “I knew it was coming but when it happens, it still hurts.”

Even after stepping away from the board, Goralski would talk to Carmody frequently.

“I am going to so terribly miss every single day on the way to work, Brian called and we’d talk. He’d give me advice and yell at me and he’d tell me things I should do and shouldn’t do and boy, am I going to miss that,” Carmody said.

She described him as devoted to the children of Southington, many of whom he coached or mentored, as well as to his wife, Cathy, son, Andrew and daughter, Jessica.

Carmody said Goralski had the “courage of a lion” following his diagnosis.

“When he found out he had cancer he was amazing with the positive attitude that he kept throughout the whole thing,” she said.

In 2019, the YMCA named Goralski Person of the Year for 2020. YMCA officials cited his unselfish service and dedication to the town’s youth.

Goralski worked as an at risk youth coordinator in the Meriden school system. 

Mark Benigni, Meriden school superintendent, said the district was better for having and knowing Goralski.

“My heart goes out to Brian’s family. He was a great mentor to so many of our students,” Benigni said.

“He was an inspiration to our staff. His positive attitude definitely helped a lot of us through those difficult days.”

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

"He was a good man. He did a lot for our kids. He was honest and straight-forward and tough and he had a lot of integrity."

-Bob Brown
Mark Pooler, executive director of the Southington-Cheshire YMCA, left, congratulates Brian Goralski after announcing him as the YMCA's 2020 Person of the Year, Dec. 9, 2019. | Dave Zajac, Record-Journal

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