Richard Goode, Stanford otolaryngologist and inventor, dies at 84

A surgeon and educator, Goode was also known for the medical devices he invented, excellence in patient care - and magic tricks.

Richard Goode, MD, a long-time otolaryngologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine whose inventions and leadership helped develop the field of ear, nose and throat medicine, died Oct. 30 at his home in Los Altos Hills. He was 84.

Goode joined the faculty of the School of Medicine in 1966 as an assistant professor of surgery, specializing in otolaryngology. He helped shape the field of facial plastic surgery and is known for advances he made in sleep surgery. In 1970, he invented the Goode T-tube, a ventilator used to drain infections of the middle ear, which is still in use today. He also developed surgical nasal splints, implantable hearing aids and contributed to  research on the development of the cochlear implant, an electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is deaf or severely hard of hearing.

"Dick Goode was a true Stanford pioneer," said Lloyd Minor , MD, dean of the School of Medicine. "A brilliant surgeon and innovator, Dr. Goode played an outsized role in the advancement of the fields of facial plastic surgery, sleep surgery and the physiology of hearing. His legacy will live on through his many breakthrough contributions that continue to improve the health and wellness of countless people today."

In addition to being a leader in middle-ear mechanics, Goode was a longtime surgeon who treated patients for more than four decades at Stanford Health Care and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System , and he trained Stanford surgical residents. He was known for his sharp wit and good humor, and he was an accomplished magician. He was recruited not only to lecture on his research at medical conferences around the world but also to perform his magic shows.

"Dick improved the lives of countless thousands of Stanford patients and was a revered surgeon, educator, innovator and leader," said Robert Jackler , MD, professor and chair of Stanford’s department of otolaryngology. "His fascination with magic also defined his career. He was always gazing into his proverbial crystal ball - seeing advances before others did."

Growing up in L.A.

Goode grew up in Los Angeles and attended Hollywood High School. He graduated from the University of California-Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s degree in zoology, then attended medical school at the University of Southern California, where he graduated with honors. At USC, he was a member of the Skull and Dagger Society, known for its pranks.

"He was funny as hell," said longtime colleague and friend Edward Damrose , MD, professor of otolaryngology at Stanford. "He would call it like he saw it. As an educator, he was there to make you a great surgeon. But first, he was there for the patient and everybody was going to be there for the patient. If you were goofing off, he’d let you know."

Goode had three children, all of whom work in the medical-device field. His son, Jim Goode, talked about how much fun he had as a kid traveling with his dad to medical conferences.

"I also got to go with him to the OR, and I have to admit, I was a bit shocked," Jim Goode said. "He had this big, booming voice and was very animated and did not hold back on his opinions."

He demanded excellence, and his residents admired him for that, Jim Goode said, adding that his dad left his surgeon’s voice behind in the OR when he coached Little League.

A magician

As a child, the senior Goode became fascinated with magic, and he performed magic tricks throughout his life. For many years, he held a séance party at his house on Halloween that drew big crowds of Stanford colleagues and friends.

"He did this big show, always evoking the spirit of Edgar Allen Poe," Jim Goode said. "He had 50 books on Poe. He’d say, ‘Poe, are you out there’’ And the bell would ring or a seat would vibrate or the curtain would shake. We were, of course, pulling the strings. He was so much fun as a dad.

"We always had a séance room in our house," Goode continued. "It was dedicated to his magic tricks and medical slides, thousands and thousands of them - work mixed together with the magic tricks. You’d walk by, and there’d be a guillotine and a crystal ball on the séance table."

For years, Richard Goode taught an undergraduate course at Stanford on paranormal psychology.

"He’d tell me, ’These guys are so smart, but I enjoy so much making their brains smoke,’" Jim Goode said. "He would do probability, then he would cheat and do magic. He said it made them get out of their box."

Goode co-authored more than 170 scholarly papers, helped start several medical companies, served as interim chief of the otolaryngology division from 2000 to 2003, and was a member of numerous professional organizations. He served as president of both the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

He is survived by his wife, Lynn Szekely; daughters Melissa Wood and Allison Corallo; son Jim Goode; former wife, Marcia Lloyd; and six grandchildren.

A celebration of his life for family and close friends will be held Jan. 10. On Jan. 11, a public celebration of his life will take place from 4-6 p.m. in William Blount Hall, at the Hoover Institution’s David & Joan Traitel Building, on the Stanford campus.

The family asks that any memorial contributions may be made to the Richard L. Goode Endowed Lectureship at med.stanford.edu/ohn­s/contact/gift.html.

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