By Aline Baker
Sixty-six years ago in Miami, where William “Bill” Goza (JD 41) was working as a clerk in a law firm, his employer offered to pay for him to complete his law school education at a local university. Even though he didn’t have the funds to complete his education, he declined. In his mind, it was the University of Florida or nothing.
Goza did find the money. The same employer agreed to give him $50 a month, which in those days would cover all expenses of room, board and living at UF, provided he would work for their law firm upon graduation.
“I’d rather not have a law degree than have one that did not come from the University of Florida,” Goza said. “I was determined to finish my law degree at UF.”
He did finish, graduating in 1938 with a bachelor’s in business administration and in 1941 with a law degree. While on campus he was involved in numerous activities, including serving as a member of Florida Blue Key and as president of the John Marshall Debating Society.
After graduation Goza found himself in the thick of World War II, where he was a battery commander of the 54th Armored Field Artillery.
Once the war ended, Goza returned to Miami briefly to fulfill his obligation practice with his sponsoring law firm. Not long after, he returned to his hometown of Clearwater to open Goza & Hall. He served his profession and community as a municipal judge, city attorney, president of the Clearwater Bar Association and president of both the Clearwater Junior and Senior Chambers of Commerce. In 1970 he was even named “Mr. Clearwater.”
But after a successful 35-year career in estate planning, Goza felt it was time to move back to one of his favorite places…Gainesville. The move allowed him to focus on another passion—forensic sciences. As a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and associate director of the William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, Goza assisted the late William R. Maples on numerous projects, including those related to Francisco Pizzaro in Peru, Joseph Merrick (the Elephant Man) in London, President Zachary Taylor in Louisville, Ky., and Czar Nicholas II and family in Russia.
“I moved around for a few years after retiring, but I knew in my heart Gainesville was the place I wanted to end up,” Goza said. “I enjoy the community and still attend Gator football and basketball games with my wife Sue.” His numerous achievements as both a student and during the course of his career resulted in many UF awards, such as induction into Hall of Fame in 1941, the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1976 and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1985.
”I have many fond memories of my days as a Gator and I am thankful every day for the opportunities the University of Florida has granted me,” he said.