Natalie Goodkind was legendary. Stylish and sophisticated, she was always impeccable, in dress and manner. She was equal parts old-world Italian and modern grace.
She was born Natalie Ruggiero in Benson, Nebraska, to Vitantonio and Annangelo, Italian immigrants who met in America, but in a remarkable twist of fate, came from the same little village in the Puglia region of Italy—Locorotondo.
Her mother was a seamstress, an artisan, who spun her own thread and taught Natalie to make clothing. From an early age, Natalie’s talents were evident, and when she was just five, the intricate embroidery she’d crafted for her dolls was featured in the Omaha World-Herald.
Natalie attended Benson High School and described herself as a very shy teenager.
When she was 19, while dancing at a USO, she met Leo Goodkind, and they fell in love. After serving in World War II, Leo returned to Omaha where he and Natalie married in 1946. It was a wonderful marriage and eventual business partnership that spanned 50 years, until Leo’s death in 1996.
The Goodkinds had three children, Terry Goodkind, Daniel Goodkind, and Sandy Aquila—who was the answer to Natalie’s prayers for a daughter. She was a caring loving mother, who nurtured her children’s ambitions. Frugal, but always in fashion, she, and her son Daniel, frequented malls together where her sense of style made a life-long impression on him. She was very close to Daniel and she and Sandy were inseparable, especially after the death of Natalie’s son Terry, in 2020. They also had two grandchildren, Cory Aquila, and Jamey Goodkind, whom she adored.
Natalie was remarkably enterprising. While working as a freelance secretary for local attorneys, what began as a request to send letters to clients, grew into A1 Direct Mail Service, a 160-employee mail distribution company she and Leo founded in their garage. She was integral to the company’s success, keeping the books and a keen eye on finances and investors.
She loved to read, and her favorite books were mysteries and romance and her son Terry’s NY Times’ Best-Selling science fiction fantasy novels.
She enjoyed playing games and was a real card shark. She was an excellent Craps player and often took her fair share of winnings from the casinos in Las Vegas and Council Bluffs whenever she’d stop by, always leaving while she was ahead.
Her spirit of adventure manifested in world-wide travel and memorable trips with Leo to Mexico, Fiji, Hong Kong, and Europe, for family reunions in Italy. Everywhere they traveled, Natalie took photos and Super 8 movies to document their voyages.
But perhaps the things for which Natalie will most be remembered will be her sharp wit and rare sense of comic timing. Her humor was subtle and surprising, and always made for lively conversation.
Natalie died at home on September 15, 2023, with her son Daniel, daughter Sandy, grandson Cory, and her beloved dog Pepe, watching over her. She will be missed by the hearts in which her memory will live on.
Preceded in death by her husband Leo Goodkind; son Terry Goodkind; parents Vitantonio and Annangelo Ruggiero; brother John Ruggiero. Survived by son Daniel Goodkind (Jen); daughter Sandra Aquila; grandsons Cory Aquila and Jamey Goodkind; great-granddaughter Karagan Goodkind; great-grandson Zachary Goodkind.
Visitation Monday (9/25/2023) from 5 - 7 PM with Rosary Service at 7 PM at Roeder Mortuary, 2727 N. 108th Street.
Funeral Mass Tuesday (9/26/2023) 1 PM at St. Bernard's Catholic Church, 3601 N. 65th Street.
Interment Calvary Cemetery.
Celebration of life Tuesday (9/26/2023) 4:30 - 7 PM at the Omaha Healing Arts O. M. Center, 1216 Howard Street, in the Old Market.
Memorials to the Open Door Mission or St. Bernard's Catholic Church.