Soon the silver Jeep with the RMBR RON license plates may vanish from this affluent community, along with the TV news vans that sometimes prowl its quiet streets.
That is because Oak Park’s most inadvertently famous residents--Fred and Patti Goldman--have put their house up for sale and are headed to Scottsdale, Ariz.
“I guess we fall into the category of being empty nesters,” said Fred Goldman, who was thrust into the spotlight when his son, Ron, was killed along with football legend O.J. Simpson’s wife. “The move will accomplish a couple of things at once--we’ll downsize our house now that the kids are in college and at work, we’ll do something new and different, and we have friends there.”
The Goldmans’ decision to put their two-story house on the market marks a bittersweet passage for Oak Park, a suburb best known for its years-long fight for its own ZIP Code. The family’s neighbors and friends say they are relieved and saddened by the turn of events.
“I think it’s probably a pretty wise decision to move on,” said teacher Ruth Bloom, who knows Fred, his daughter, Kim, Patti and her two grown children. Patti’s “kids are in school in Arizona. It’s been a really tough four years and reminders of Ron are everywhere here. I wish them well.”
One neighbor who lives on the Goldmans’ well-tended street said the family’s departure might bring peace to the area.
The media onslaught after each twist in the criminal and civil cases against O.J. Simpson--who was cleared in a criminal double-murder trial but held civilly responsible for the deaths of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson--had wearied the Goldmans’ neighbors.
Many of them grew adept at snapping out “No comments” without opening the front door.
“It’s been pretty quiet lately,” said one neighbor, who would not give her name. “But before, ugh.”
Fred Goldman said Wednesday that his move to Arizona is not a dash away from the limelight.
The 57-year-old is still interested in working on a television or radio show that promotes victims rights and stiffer sentencing guidelines. In 1996, Goldman left a 30-year career in sales to pursue those goals by taking a $100,000-a-year job with the nonprofit Safe Streets Coalition.
But the grieving father said the Washington, D.C.-based group has since folded after struggling with fund-raising. While Safe Streets is still listed in Washington as an active nonprofit group, its local and East Coast phone lines have been disconnected.
Since Safe Streets’ demise, Goldman and his second wife, Patti, have been living off book profits, speaking fees and her job in electrolysis. He has yet to see a penny of the $33.5-million judgment awarded the Goldman and Brown families in civil court.
Whether in Arizona or the Los Angeles area, Goldman vowed to continue his work as a “general rabble-rouser.”
“Every year, families just like ours experience the same horrible nightmare--we just happen to be part of a case that gained national notoriety,” he said. “Maybe because we were visible, people understood that a little more.”