Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Bill Gottfried: R.I.P.

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of one of the mystery community’s most loved and stalwart supporters, Bill Gottfried. Beloved by authors, fans, and readers all over the world, Bill made significant contributions to the mystery world.

I first met Bill at the San Francisco Bouchercon in 1985. He and Toby were what I called ‘the cute couple’.. always together, holding hands, enjoying a loving and harmonious marriage of shared interests. It was rare to see one without the other. 

Bill and Toby joined our weekly mystery book group just after that Bouchercon, and he was a member ever since, even participating in last night’s zoom meeting. 25 + years ago he formed his own summer mystery book group, focusing on history mysteries, his favorite. That group gave him much joy. Over the years, we worked on numerous mystery conventions together. We often spent time together at conventions, too, in other cities, visiting art museums and historic sites in the many different places in which the conventions took place. 

Bill was a terrific resource for all things mystery and medical. That was a great combination for me, personally, as it was always good to have a ‘doctor in the house.’ And, in case you didn't know, Bill personally saved the lives of several of our mystery friends. Bill was a world traveler, a collector of masks and ethnic artifacts, a gardener, a bird watcher, a scholar. Religion played an important part in his life, and recently during the pandemic, he continued to expand his personal education in a number of fields. He always wanted to learn more, taking classes online and before that in person during his retirement. He also shared information about these courses to make sure others got the opportunity to attend. Bill loved to share his knowledge and his love of many different subjects. 

Bill will be remembered for his Talmudic questioning, both at conventions, in emails, and on Facebook. He embraced technology early on as a way to expand his knowledge, his experiences, and to grow new and old friendships. 

For Bill, family was always first. Family was near and dear to him. His devotion and love for Toby was unparalleled. His time with and love for his children and grandchildren was paramount. He was proud of his family and spoke of them often. 

Summing up a life well lived is difficult. Bill was a reader, a fan, a doctor, a friend. But most of all, he was family. We both grew up in Philadelphia, we both went to the University of Pennsylvania…albeit not at the same time. We both moved to California. We had so many things we shared: collecting, mystery, history, maps, religion, art, reference books. If you knew Bill you knew he bought books, often several copies of the same one, much to Toby’s chagrin. But instead of returning the extra copy or two, he gave them to others who would appreciate them. 

Even though we were not related by blood, I thought of him as family. I appreciate that he included me in his family celebrations, family group emails, and decisions. And, as family we sometimes squabbled, but that, too, is what family is about -- how we attain knowledge and show our love. I considered Bill my friend, doctor, and often my surrogate father. 

He was brilliant and loving, warm, and unique. But most of all, he will be remembered for his acts of Chesed (Look it up, Bill would say!). 

May his memory be a blessing. I know I am blessed for having had him in my life all these years. He will be missed.

26 comments:

Margaret Lucke said...

Janet, thank you for this beautiful tribute to a magnificent man. Bill will be so much missed.

Keith Raffel said...

Oh no! What a wonderful guy. What a loss. So sorry, Janet. Heart goes out to Toby.

Susan Bernhardt said...

What a lovely post about your friend. I'm sorry for your loss.

LK Rurka said...

The mystery world will not be the same without him. Thank you for sharing the history of friendship.

Carol said...

He was, I eyed, a blessing.

Dokey said...

Your tribute reminds me Bill’s childhood dream was to become a rabbi. His life took a different path but the values he loved as a child carried him through life.

Chris Goff said...

This is a beautiful tribute, Janet. My heart breaks too.

MarlynB said...

Lovely tribute, Janet.

CarlBrookins@comcast.net said...

Heavy heart. I first met Bill and Toby in the early 1980's. Very sad to learn of his passing, but thanks, Janet for a fine Tribute to one of the Mystery Community's most stalwart and hard-working individuals in our world. I can think of no one with stronger and longer credentials. His support, his knowledge and his work for crime fiction authors was consistent and constant. Bill, you Will be greatly missed.

Jeffrey Siger said...

Thank you. Janet, for saying so beautifully what we all are thinking and feeling. Much love to all at this difficult time. Jeff & Barbara.

Priscilla said...

A beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. He will be missed so much by all of us who knew him.

Ken Isaacson said...

So very sad. He was one of the first (along with Toby) to welcome me into the convention community. A real mensch.

Libby Hellmann said...

What a lovely tribute, Janet. I can feel your love for him. He was, of course, an easy man to love... Enthusiastic, friendly, and kind. And so learned... in so many ways. He is one of the good guys, and he will be greatly missed. Please let us know how to contact Toby when you get a chance. As it happens, I will by in Philly in 10 days -- I will think of him as I revisit the Penn campus. I'm so sorry for your loss. And all of ours.
Libby

James Ziskin said...

Oh, God. So sorry to hear this. Bill was a lovely man. I’m so, so sad. My deepest sympathies to Toby. Tears. Jim

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Beautiful tribute, Janet. Very sorry to hear about Bill's passing. Most of us lit up whenever we saw him and Tobi. A sad day and a great loss to the community.

Ellen Kirschman said...

Shocking news. Bill was following my recent travels on FB, asking questions as if he was ready to travel. The last comment was only a few days ago. He was a warm and welcoming man who was gracious to me as a newcomer to the world of mystery writing.

Naomi Hirahara said...

Beautiful expressed, Janet.

Yves Fey said...

Lovely memorial, Janet. I'm sorry to have missed more time with him.

Richard Moore said...

I do remember him at conventions. Great tribute!

Clea Simon said...

May his memory be a blessing. A beautiful tribute, Janet.

Unknown said...

I was so sorry to hear about Bill (from Jeff Grund this morning). Please convey my love and condolences and best wishes to Toby and to all of Bill's family and to all his friends in the Mystery World. This was truly sad news.
Zulema (Sue to most of you)

Rick Robinson said...

A wonderful man, so savvy, so kind. Conventions, especially LCC, won’t be the same without him.

dru said...

He will be missed.

Zoë Sharp said...

That's such a lovely eulogy, Janet. Bill was one of the delights of coming to the States for me. A true gentleman and a truly great loss to everyone who was fortunate enough to encounter him.

P.Ana said...

I met Bill at your house long ago and still remember his enthusiasm and kindness. what a loving family tribute.

Keith Raffel said...

How about naming a Lefty Award after Bill? The Bill Gottfried Mystery Award for best mystery set in the West?