Arthur Gosling (Art), an educator and active member of the community, died September 10, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia, surrounded by his family. He was 83. The cause of death was cancer.
Art dedicated his life to public school education, culminating in his appointment as superintendent of Arlington Public Schools from 1985 to 1997. Among his many accomplishments, he initiated a plan for all-day kindergarten for all students; developed multiple programs for at-risk students, including special education students; initiated a K-12 Spanish immersion program; and focused on improving the teacher support system, including a salary and benefits program that was a model for the Washington metropolitan area. He particularly enjoyed mentoring new school principals.
He was also a leader in advocating for and promoting women in the schools. His efforts were recognized in 1997 with the Person of Vision Award from the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women. The award citation noted that he “employed the first female high school principal, assigned many women to administrative roles, and more than doubled the number of female principals in his 12 years as superintendent.” He was the only male recipient of this award since it began in the 1980s.
Art started his career in the public schools of Akron, Ohio, where he taught English and social studies. In subsequent years he served as principal of Highland Park High School in Highland Park, Illinois, assistant superintendent of schools in South Orange and Maplewood, New Jersey, and area superintendent in Fairfax County, Virginia. Throughout his career he published multiple papers and spoke frequently on education and leadership, with a focus on school principals. He was an active participant in the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, serving as president from 1995 to 1996.
After retiring from Arlington Public Schools in 1997, Art remained involved in education. He became the executive director of the Washington Area School Study Council, a study group for local school superintendents. He was also executive director of the National Clearinghouse for Comprehensive School Reform at George Washington University. More recently, he served 6 years as president of Encore Learning, a continuing adult education program serving the Washington area, stepping down in 2020.
Art was born in Akron, Ohio, on January 17, 1937, to Arthur Warrington Gosling and Wilhelmina Bell Gosling and grew up in Akron with his older sister Elizabeth (Betty Ann) and younger brother John (Jack).
After graduating from Buchtel High School in Akron, Art attended Ohio Wesleyan University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history. He later earned a master’s degree in history at Kent State University, a certificate of advanced study in educational administration at Harvard University, and a doctorate in education, curriculum, and supervision at Indiana University.
In college Art met the love of his life, Carolyn Gass; they married and celebrated their 60th anniversary in November 2019. Over these years they raised three children and enjoyed many activities together such as hiking, biking, birdwatching and going to the theater. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the performing arts in the Washington area and especially enjoyed attending with his children, granddaughters and friends.
Art loved to travel and, with Carolyn, explored the world by foot, bike and boat. They traveled many times to Kauai, Hawaii, where they were often joined by Art’s brother Jack and his wife Judy. In Hawaii and elsewhere, Art always looked forward to golf games with Jack. To his chagrin, Jack usually came out on top.
They also traveled to Europe, Africa, New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands and most recently Panama. Once, they walked across England, staying in inns and bed and breakfasts along the route. Another memorable trip included a bike ride in Ireland that resulted in a spectacular crash, broken collarbone and medical evacuation by helicopter. Art’s resulting cast was quite impressive.
Art was an avid reader and crossword puzzler. He was a fan of Jeopardy, British television shows, golf, tennis and the Washington Nationals. He played tennis, golfed and bicycled into his 80s and took daily walks with Carolyn. He liked to fish when he got the chance, usually during visits with close friends in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. At home he kept a meticulous yard and fought a years-long battle with the birds and squirrels that tried to get into the blueberry patch.
Art was dedicated to his family. His three children, Tom, Leslie and Laura, benefited from his everyday participation as a dad, whether throwing around a baseball or softball, going camping, or freezing the backyard for a homemade ice-skating rink. He taught his older two children how to sail his small sailboat. Before he could teach his youngest child, however, the sailboat slipped off the car, fell onto the highway and suffered an irreparable crack, thus thwarting the sailing lesson. Even after his children grew up, he presided over holiday get-togethers and family birthdays, many of which were topped off with a particular favorite food of his—Aunt Marion’s Chocolate Cake.
Likewise, with his two grandchildren, Anna and Ellie, he jumped right into the role as Papa. Along with Carolyn (aka Nanny), Art was a constant presence at school concerts, celebrations and family dinners. He also learned some Hebrew so he could participate in his granddaughters’ Bat Mitzvahs.
Art stayed in touch with friends going back to his days in Akron and at Ohio Wesleyan, and he acquired new friends wherever he went. Later in life, he developed good friendships while playing tennis and golf, including a group of seniors, known fondly as the “Geezers,” that got together to discuss current events.
In all his endeavors, Art was committed to making a contribution. He usually took a leadership role and always served as a steward of the organization and a supporter of his colleagues. He loved getting together with people and engaging on a wide range of subjects. He was an excellent listener and an unflappable, curious and steadfast presence among those around him.
He is survived by his wife Carolyn; son Thomas and daughter-in-law Roberta; daughter Leslie; daughter Laura and son-in-law David Sessa; and granddaughters Anna and Ellie Gosling. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Encore Learning’s Arlington Youth Scholarship Fund or the Capitol Area Food Bank, please see donation links below. The family will hold a private service. Until a memorial can be held at a later date, the family is asking for written, video or photo memories of Art to be emailed to his family at [email protected]. These will be compiled and shared in the coming weeks.