Friday, October 20, 2006

Que vayas con Dios

I remember Billy when he was a 10-year old blond haired little boy with a great deal of energy, eagerness and inquisitiveness about him and at the same time a shy and gentle little guy. Bill and his two sisters, Cathy and Aimee were the cutest, sweetest and most adventuresome kids I had ever met and so-well mannered and thoughtful. They came into my life when I was in my late 20’s and had finally escaped the Fresno, CA scene to make a life in San Francisco. I was working with my husband, John (Jackie Babe) Ortega, at the time and hadn’t yet found a place to live. Pat and Ute who traveled to Montana during the summer, or maybe Germany, Mexico or Ireland, offered me their home. It was beautiful, nestled in Mill Valley across from the Golden Gate Bridge. They’re the kindest, most generous people I have ever met and so passionate about life. Nothing ever stops them from living life it to its fullest. It’s no wonder that Bill grew into the gregarious, intelligent, thoughtful and sensitive man that he was. He was the son of Pat and Ute.

I remember one of their visits when we lived on the Mexican border back in the 70’s. Pat, Ute and the kids arrived and presented me with a beautiful tumbleweed that they had found as they drove through the desert. I’d never thought of tumbleweed as beautiful until then. Ute was on her way to the tip of Baja California in search of the mission trail and wanted to know if I’d go with her and act as a translator. It would just be her and the kids and Pat was to join us later. I jumped at the chance as I had never been to Mexico, my country of origin, and Ute and Pat were offering to pay all the expenses, including the flight back and all I had to do was help Ute with Spanish. It was a dream come true and I’ll be forever be grateful to them for giving me this opportunity.

At 8 years of age Billy, with an enthusiastic look on his face, told his Mother he wanted to learn to speak Spanish, already showing his love of being able to communicate with everyone and not missing out on anything. So, we took off, two women, four kids, luggage, and Ute’s paint brushes and sketch board to capture the local scenery, artist that she is. What a country, Mexico. Every time we came to an Aduana (Customs) checkpoint, Ute pulled out the mandatory written permission that the father had given to the mother allowing her permission to travel with her own kids, Machismo at it finest. After reaching the southern demarcation line of Baja California we got to experience the natural features of the area and drove through forests of huge Saguaro cactus, elephant trees and along miles and miles of white sanded beaches of blue green water that seemed to go on forever until we came upon an oasis in the middle of the desert, a small town called Mulege. To me it was like coming upon a jungle and imagined alligators in the water, like something out of all those western movies I love to watch that were filmed in Mexico. We drove into a town with no phones, a plaza with a church built in the 1700’s that was still being used by local residents, the plaza canopied by a large tree that provided shade on the old wrought iron and wood benches where people sat and freshly peeled purple-red cactus pears all neatly packed in a wooden crate ready to eat. We stayed there for the night and it was heaven. All of this because of Pat & Ute’s generosity.

This was part of Bill’s childhood and what a wonderful one it was. I won’t say good-bye as Bill’s spirit lives on in his family in the words he wrote. I feel so very lucky to have known him and to still be able to share memories of Bill’s life with his family and friends.

You’ll forever remain in my heart, Bill. I close with a beautiful poem I found when I heard about your death that symbolizes for me the beauty of who you were. Que vayas con Dios, Billy.

Maria Rodriguez & Jackie Babe


Three times I’ve seen the
Egret—no, four times
if I count that once
when, turning past rocks
hot and bare in May,
I saw one in the
burned-off field—stark
white against ash black.

But three times (at least)
I’ve seen him/her not
two miles from my dry
suburban home. I’ve
seen him/her glide hot
air above golden weeds on the freeway
offramp, glide past oaks

centuries old, past
poppies that would die
in July’s heat, past
concrete rivers that
will outlast them all.
Three times I’ve seen the
egret wing—white, calm,
silent memory.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Insert for Bill in the U.S. Congressional Record

Extension of Remarks
Representative Lynn Woolsey

September 13, 2006

Mr.Speaker, I rise today to honor William Oskar Goggins for the kindness and influence he showed the world during his 43 years here.

Billy was born at St Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco, CA on Sunday, May 10, 1963 – on Mother’s Day. He was the first child of Patrick & Ute Goggins, both very well-known and respected individuals in the Bay Area and beyond.

From the hospital he was carried right into a civil rights demonstration in Golden Gate Park. Billy took his first trip to Ireland at 4 years old to meet his family relatives in the west of Ireland in County Mayo. Annual family trips by car to Montana & Dakota included reunions in the Bear’s Paw Mountains, hi-balling on the Iron Road, the old Great Northern Railway and running brave with Chippewa, Cree, Blackfoot and Sioux Indian friends. The Goggins’ adventured on two-month road trips to Baja and the Pacific Coast of Mexico where mother Ute painted, and sisters Cathy & Aimee followed in Bill’s energetic footsteps. Billy toiled in family vineyards in Germany with equally embracing relatives. These things were the soul of his education.

Over the years Bill played soccer, drew cartoons, tutored younger students from Mill Valley and Marin City, played volleyball at Stinson Beach, surfed in Bolinas, and much much more. He graduated from Tamalpais High School as a National Merit Scholar and Salutatorian.

Summer jobs were at Bancroft-Whitney legal publishers, San Francisco and Wausau Paper Mill, Wisconsin. He worked at numerous restaurants including the Book Depot Café and Avenue Grill in Mill Valley, and Embarko in San Francisco. He also volunteered at St Anthony Dining Room in the Tenderloin, providing free meals for the homeless.

Bill attended Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and San Francisco State University, Departments of Communication and Philosophy. He began his vital journalism career with Frisko Kids, KALW radio, and then moved on to the old SF Weekly.

Former SF Weekly editor and colleague Andrew O’Hehir remembers, “Of course he worked harder than anyone and became essential, and in three years moved from all-purpose intern to copy editor to running the Arts & Entertainment section. I can’t remember exactly when he became the go-to guy for headline copy, but I’d say that by the time he’d been there a year, he was writing half the heads in the paper.”

Bill thrived at Wired for 10 years. He started as a freelance copy editor and rose to become deputy editor. Bill served as a special link between the digital industry’s pace-setting magazine in the center of San Francisco’s media gulch and an eager, educated national and international readership. His colleagues admired him tremendously.

“Bill was that rarest of things: a true original,” says Chris Anderson, the magazine’s editor in chief. “He was brilliant, witty and culturally omnivorous, all of which combined in his signature headlines. They usually worked on at least three levels of meaning, from some remixed cultural reference to at least one pun. In many ways his winking style and clever turns of phrase became Wired house style for nearly a decade, and to look at our covers and headlines over those years is to hear Bill’s voice again.”

Bill’s voice also made its mark through the alternative dot-com generation’s website where he wrote under the name ‘Bartelby’. Bill recently enjoyed writing and editing with the new magazine Todo, and they remember him not just as a logophile, a wordsmith, a gifted editor, a true friend; but also as “one who tirelessly pursues perfection, fraternity and goodness.”

A real linguist (German, Spanish & Bill-English) and traveler – Bill visited Tunisia, the Philippines, Bahamas, Mexico, Canada, and all over the United States and Europe. He was a dual citizen of the US and Ireland. Bill was a citizen of the world.

Bill was a San Franciscan through and through. He openly embraced and explored all of the city’s neighborhoods. He was an avid supporter of the arts, with active memberships to many museums and regular attendance at the symphony, opera, ballet, varied theatres and clubs.

Bill participated with his family and compatriots in the antiwar demonstrations from the Vietnam era to Iraq of today.

My daughter, Amy Critchett, had the good fortune to be a friend with and to work with Bill at Wired for many years. “Bill Goggins made work seem like work - because it was and he was so incredibly good at what he did - but with him around there was always a twist of irony and a splash of curly-haired, smiling-cheeked sunshine not far away,” according to Amy. “Get ready to laugh all you up there.”

Bill inexplicably collapsed and passed away suddenly during mile 24 of the San Francisco Marathon Benefit for Cancer on Sunday, July 30, 2006. He was in fit condition and many knew him as a wonderful, companionable runner, reconciled, strong and happy.

An outpouring of hundreds from around the globe, representing family, friends, colleagues, public officials on local, state and national levels, ambassadors, the Irish & British governments, the Democratic party, and diverse cultural non-profit organizations attended a memorial mass held at our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and a life celebration at the Outdoor Art Club in Mill Valley on August 4, 2006.

Billy was a deeply loved member of a very close family. He supported all of them individually and together – helping hang his mother Ute’s art shows, assisting his father Pat with community outreach via organizations such as the Irish Forum, Irish Mexican Association, and Irish Literary & Historical Society to name a few, being the proud uncle to sister Cathy’s two children, Lina Rose & Dominic Chester, and showing up for sister Aimee’s various work events or helping edit her writing.

Bill believed in justice, peace and humanity. He connected with people everywhere he went. No one and nothing escaped his keen eye and warm words. His sense of community was broad and all-encompassing. Bill was a man of grace. He chipped in for everyone.

He had old-fashioned manners, was a staunch listener and he gave of himself enormously. His roughish grin, sparkle in his eye and love of discussion and opinion will live on with us forever.

Mr. Speaker, Bill had enormous integrity and loyalty, and taught us all how to be total human beings. To be fearless, to be bold, to be true to yourself. To be both gracious and outspoken. To pursue what matters in life and cherish each other. Bill knew all of these things and helped us be them too. Bill lived his life and made all of us proud. He will be deeply missed by many.

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