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GOETZ, BERNICE

GOETZ, BERNICE (4 May 1909-30 Dec.1958) was not content with roles traditionally open to women. Though a secrtetary by profession, she became famous for her expeditions into the jungles of Central and South America.

Born in Cleveland to Henry G. and Sophia Goetz, Bernice graduated from West Commerce High School before securing a job with the Brooks and Stafford insurance agency. She saved as much of her salary and vacation time as she could, and at age 19, in 1931, she was ready for her first expedition, to explore ruins in the Mexican jungles.

That first trip provided her with an additional resource for funding future expeditions. She found that she enjoyed lecturing, and she became a popular public speaker. She also found herself involved in teaching poetry through a program at the CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY. Later she worked for the Red Cross and for an oil exploration firm in order to facilitate further travel.

Ultimately she was to make thirteen personally planned and self-financed trips to South America, exploring regions in Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, and Guatamala.

Each visit increased her popularity as a lecturer, and she was also invited by the local newspapers, as well as the National Geographic magazine, to write of her travels. She also brought back to Cleveland many artifacts, donating them to the Cleveland Public Library and the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY.

Goetz died from cancer shortly after returning from an expedition. She is buried in Brooklyn Heights Cemetery.