Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Some recent remembrances

For those who haven't yet seen it, Josh Davis penned a feature story for last month's issue of Men's Health magazine, exploring the undiagnosed heart condition that led to Bill's death. The piece is both a great tribute to Bill and a fantastic work of investigative medical reporting. You can find it online here. Josh also appeared on an hour long program on KQED in San Francisco, to discuss the story and the condition together with two experts; you can listen to the audio here.

This past July there were a number of gatherings marking the first anniversary of Bill's passing, in San Francisco, Mill Valley, and Bolinas, with glasses raised in tribute much farther afield. In May, the Goggins family awarded the inaugural William O. Goggins Journalism Awards to two American Indian graduating students showing interest and promise in writing at Stone Child College, Rocky Boy’s Reservation and Blackfeet Community College, Blackfoot Reservation. Both colleges are in Northern Montana, a place to which Bill and his family have deep connections.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A sunny day in Bolinas

A couple of photos from Jorge Bachmann, taken in Bolinas on May 10, which Jorge and Bill share as their birthday.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I would like to make this short and sweet.

Bill was part of my family. I lost touch with Bill when my sister Mary Jo and he broke up. I always remembered his birthday but I was lazy with making that call. Today I think of Bill and I am so proud of what he accomplished. I am so shocked that he is not here! Life is crazy! Missing Bill today!

In fond remembrance,


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Tribute to You, Billy

It has taken me eight months to commit pen to paper…not that I am still in denial about your death. More a suspended state of disbelief. I can’t believe that someone with such presence is gone. I miss you so much.

In many ways, I can still feel your presence. Your wise words and warm smiles are still with me. In the last few months, whenever I have been in social/conversational situations where I find myself a tad, well…bored, I imagine what you would say if you were there…your ability to add humor, perspective, silliness and/or constructive confrontation to a conversation was unmatched. Your combination of brains, banter and balls was a delight to witness in public, especially if there was a stranger who thought they could take you on.

On a spiritual level I can accept your moving on – your family and friends say that you were taken by the angels – this phrase helps me let you go. But on a selfish level, I am still really struggling. We had so many good times together in so many different places…oceans, forests, bars, nightclubs, restaurants, baseball parks, softball fields, basketball courts, subways…anytime I am on BART, or see Mt. Tam or go to a baseball game, you are foremost on my mind. In fact, everyday you are on my mind. We had so many long walks helping each other figure out our current predicaments, listening to the venting and spilling and confused wonderings and then responding in sympathetic and tough and real ways, helping each other the way old friends do, maybe being a bit more honest than we would have preferred, but as truthful as we needed to be.

I still wish I could have seen you one more time.

Your friendship has made me a better friend. You taught me how to listen by listening to me. Your gift of gab helped me better articulate my thoughts. Your ability to expand the contexts of a myriad of topics helped broaden my thoughts and perspectives. I know some people thought you talked too much (you often said this about yourself), but I never got tired of hearing you talk. After being with you during a 6-hour flight delay, my mom said that you were the best person to be stuck somewhere with. Sometimes just the challenge of following your threads and references was enough to keep me engaged. Hearing you make sense of the world helped me understand its senselessness.

The utter shock, loss and grief that I feel makes me think I took you for granted. Thank you for being in my life, for guiding me to better places, for being there every time I needed you…you were so present in my life in both emotional and pragmatic ways. I was lucky to meet you when I was still a boy because you helped me grow to be a better man.

The toughest thing to let go of is missing the last chance I had to speak with you…the night before you died, you called the house. I was on a work call and chasing Zak into the bath. Cynthia answered and you said no big deal, I could call you back. After Zak’s bath and bedtime routine, I was pooped and by the time I remembered to call you back it was late. So I figured I’d call you in the morning. I did, but you would never get the voicemail. I want that back. I want to speak with you one more time. I want to hear the latest from your life. You were in such a good and hard place. You. I want to hear you ramble on about your life and the middle east and foot long hot dogs and politics and porn and somehow link them all together in a sentence and have it all actually make sense. I want to hear you tell me to take care of Cynthia, Zak and Sean one more time, like you always did at the end of our conversations.

See, Billy, I told you I wasn’t taking this very well. I’m all selfish and me, me, me about your death. I wish I could be more evolved about it all. Your family has been such an inspiration. You must be so proud of them…your friends, too…this website, the articles, the run finishing the marathon…you really were part of a loving and creative and connected community. I just miss you so much. Writing this to you helps, but I want to hear a wise crack. I want to go to Mel’s with you and Jack and lie about a birthday to get free pie and a song from a cute waitress. I want your guidance and perspective. I want to see you being an uncle with Dominic and Lina. I want to go hoarse heckling professional ball players with you. I’m so grateful for all you have given me and shared with me. I could go on and on, but damnit, I miss you.

- Alex Atkinson

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bill's presence

Although I didn't know Bill well, he made an impression on me. My angle of intersection with Bill was Cathy, Bill's sister, who has been a close friend since college. Over the years, I would see Bill periodically, and there was always something quirkily memorable about those occasions.

I first met both Bill and Cathy at a party that I threw with roommates in Berkeley. It was kind of a wild night, the proof of which is that I don't remember much about it. Still, I remember meeting Cathy and Bill, and a meta-moment where Bill was talking and I thought, "This guy is really interesting." I didn't quite make it to the end of the party, or even the middle. According to reports, later that night Bill jumped off our balcony, making his mark on every one else's memory as well.

During subsequent encounters over the years, I was repeatedly struck by what an interesting, engaged, and vibrant person Bill was. At one New Year's party I threw with Cathy, Bill walked in the door and embraced and kissed on the lips several of the women there. He did this in a way that was somehow mischievous, playful, charming and good-natured all at the same time. I'm not sure that just anyone could have pulled that off. Another time we met in New York, and I gave him a tour of an alternative video collective I was working with. He "got" what we were doing right away, and we spent a couple of hours talking about the relationship between media, culture and society. That was my first experience of connecting with Bill intellectually.

After that, our interest in media became a common reference point. I eventually became an academic in the field of media and communication, and Bill went to work at Wired. Whenever I'd see him, he was always very supportive of my work. He encouraged me to write something for Wired's back page and offered several times to copy edit the book I was writing. I never took him up on either offer, which I no doubt should have. In the latter case, I was worried that he would find the book too academic (and possibly boring) to edit. When I mentioned this to some of his professional friends and colleagues later, they said that one of the things that made Bill a great editor was that he was able to deal with everyone's writing and ideas on their own terms. In any case, I always appreciated the generosity of his offer.

The last time I saw Bill was about a year before he died. My husband and I had invited a bunch of friends to stay with us in a house we had rented in St. Helena. Cathy and husband Paul were there throughout the week, and Bill came up for a day along with Pat and Ute. I had a new, three month old baby. Bill took the baby and played with her for a while, and I remember being struck by what a natural he was with a 3 month old, and how considerate it was of him to take the baby off my hands for a bit. He also spoke about how he was re-evaluating his life, both personally and professionally, and how he felt like he was in a good place to move forward.

I was deeply saddened to hear about Bill's death, both because of what an all around great presence he always was and because of how much I knew he would be missed by his wonderful and close family, whose openness, generosity and love over the years have always been so apparent and of whom Bill was so much a part and so representative. I think that Bill was one of those people that regardless of how well you knew him, you always felt good knowing that there were people like him in the world.

-Laura Stein

Monday, March 19, 2007

Missing my "tocayo"

I have waited so long to add my words to this wonderful homage to Bill. I do so today because Bill has been much on my mind. I think he is nudging me to "get on with it."
My name is Guillermina, which is Spanish for Wilhelmina, which is the feminine of William. My siblings called me "Bill." So, Bill was my "tocayo" and I his. While a Spanish to English dictionary might define that word as simply "namesake," I believe it means much more. In some odd, almost metaphysical way, names can define and shape us. That defining and shaping allowed Bill's soul and my soul to touch gently and with dear affection during the times we had together.
My family and I met Bill when he was 17 years old; my husband, Michael, and I were beginning a life-long friendship with his parents Patrick and Ute. Bill was a sparkling young man, about to commence his college education at Georgetown University. The last time we saw Bill was in 2005, at the celebration of our new home in Calistoga. He was in the process of "commencing" then as well. By coincidence, we must have been just a couple of blocks away the moment the angels took Bill. With our daughter, Marlena, Michael and I were walking towards a breakfast spot on that glorious Sunday and were on the marathon route at about mile 20.
In the intervening years, we shared some wonderful adventures with Bill and the Goggins clan. I won't go on with interminable descriptions of cherished moments but will describe only one. I cannot recall the year, but I do know it was St. Valentine's Day. The Goggins and Byrne families were to dine at a Mill Valley restaurant, at which Bill was working. Bill had arranged to wait on our table. I had hoped he would; I had not expected he would decorate our table in that special, thoughtful way that was pure Bill. When we walked into the restaurant, we were not only greeted with beautiful flowers on the table but also with deep red, heart-shaped confetti tastefully strewn thereon. I cannot recall what we ate but do know we have never been served with such thoughtful affection and good cheer. Bill certainly had a way with women, even those of us old enough to be his mother.
But Bill wasn't smarmy; his clear, knowing eyes were softened with warmth and acceptance. Many of you have described Bill's keen intellingence, often unfathomable verbiage, and uncontainable zest for life. All true. When he comes to my mind, however, I will recall the direct gaze of his eyes, the warmth of his hands in mine, and his freely given declarations of affection. I love you too, mi tocayo.

Friday, February 16, 2007

It has taken me all this time

It has taken me all this time since William O. Goggins passing to say something.

I do not take death well.

It is especially difficult to remember and say good-bye to someone who loves life and who you love and respect for the fact of their earthly existence that fills the world with love and respect.

This is, however, a good day to fondly remember someone but, for me, not to say good-bye. The fine young man I know as William O. Goggins is an old soul who has been running around the universe for a long, long time. I know that he has been doing this forever and that his spirit will continue doing so.

We will meet again, all of us, we people from the stars. But I will look forward especially to seeing him again.

I am not going to say good-bye because, for one thing, you cannot say good-bye in our Blackfoot language. You can only say something like, "I will see you again".

This is what I want to say here, "William O. Goggins I will see you again someday and we will visit and have a good time eating and drinking some thing good, while we remember when. But this time, don't go running off so soon. I know you have a universe to travel and that you have to make like a comet . . . . but then again you do leave a beautiful trail as you come and go".

* * * * Long Standing Bear Chief

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Headline TK

I wish Bill was here to give me a smart and simple introductory sentence. I wish Bill was here to help me decide which of our thousand stories to tell first. I wish Bill was here to help me not think so much about what I'm typing but more about what I'm trying say. I wish Bill was here to check all references, cross-references, grammar, spelling, double spaces, tracking, leading and type style before I publish this post. I wish Bill was here to remind me to be bold and simple. I wish Bill was here to write a headline for my entry.
Oh - and most important - I wish Bill was here so we could get together and watch the USA vs Mexico soccer match tonight.
I miss my brother Bill,

Monday, January 29, 2007

Great editor, great person

I was thinking of Bill this morning, because as it happened, I needed to use "hip-hop" in something. And if you were to ask me to describe William O. Goggins, I'd tell you he was a person who could and in fact did get worked up over whether or not hip-hop should be hyphenated. And why you couldn't make "bebop" one word, because if you did that, you'd be left with hiphop, which would sound like "hifop," and well, you see.

That to me, was the essence of Bill. Lively, whipsmart, argumentative, idiocyncratic, droll.

He was my one of my first editors, early in my career, at SF Weekly and Wired. He was also my friend, and if I'm in any measure a better writer or a better person than the snarkly fledgling smartass I was then, it's in no small part to his influence. Stellar editors are a rarity, ones who are also exceptional human beings even moreso. I'll always be honored to have known him.

-- Mary Elizabeth Williams

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thanks, Bill.

It was an August Sunday in Bolinas. I slowly walked down the now familiar aisle directly behind the church; head down and fixated on my shoes as they crunched through the gravel. I stopped at plot 154. I stood there... Consumed by grief, by the seemingly overwhelming circumstances that were enveloping my life - in the two weeks that had preceded, I had lost my job; my car was totaled; I had cracked my pelvis; I had a looming court date; not to mention the war in Iraq; escalating gas prices; and now this... Bill, my friend, my "brother", was unbelievably gone.

I stood there alone, with tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat, a very heavy heart, and my myriad of worries. Unable to really focus on anything(!), I simply stood there angrily questioning... Why? How? What? I was there less than a minute, when my chaos was interrupted, parted by a gentle (but clear) voice whispering through me these five simple words... "It's about the little things".

Slightly bewildered by this encounter (and its meaning), I made a "b-line" for my awaiting rental car. As I walked past the small church, I became aware of how comforting the warm sunshine felt upon my face. Over the next few days I started grasping the beautiful gift(s) that I was given on that Summer day. The little things... A ray of sunshine, a smile, the sound of the ocean, holding hands, my morning shower, saying "I love you"... These limitless "little things" are what should be noticed, what should be treasured; these "little things" are what life is about.

Thanks, Bill.

- Adam

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Night To Remember

At the request of Bill's family I am making an entry (verbatim) of the thoughts written down in my card of condolence, intended originally to be quite short, but for reason as explained subsequently I added later more in light of an unexpectred adventure:

(after the preprinted wording of the card ("May the peace of Christ ease your pain of loss and give you strength") "P.S. I didn't know Bill well but do remember him well!"

(added on the day following the Mass and Reception Celebration)
"P.P.S. I forgot to leave this card at the reception after the Mass because I was in a hurry to leave since the last bus out of downtown to S.F. supposedly was at about 8:45pm. However it didn't show up, although a different bus route vehicle did. Luckily the driver was willing to take me close to the freeway, then gave me a short explanation of where to go from there. But it didn't work out the way I heard it and so I ended up walking along the freeway shoulder for a ways, then gave up and went back up. Luckily a couple of "homeless" guys also were going to S.F. and one had figured out where to find the bus pad along the freeway (had to cross the busy street, first).Once there, I noticed a couple of young women sitting quite a ways apart - seemed like a bad idea since it was dark! Anyway, eventually the bus came and I found room to stand for a couple of stops, then got a seat. I never knew getting back to S.F. could be such an adventure, but during the whole experience I thought of BILL and his adventures!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Rattling Your Cage

It's still on my calendar: "October 4, 2005, from 10 to 11am, Bill Goggins". He came to meet with me and my coworkers at my new job. He stayed an extra hour just talking to the two heads of my small firm. They were dazzled by him, and afterwards rushed to my desk to thank me for introducing them. For weeks, they referred to things he had said, thoughts he had shared.

Later, we traded emails so we could get together for a long-planned drink and catch-up session. Our emails went back and forth, busy week after busy week, the quick check-ins written in classic Billspeak: "Rattling your cage...", that sort of thing.

Months later, when I was on the verge of starting yet another new job, he was the first person I thought of calling. I needed his advice, his input, as I headed into a new magazine adventure that needed his touch and his wisdom. But he was gone.

I miss Bill every day, as I work with the words and images that remind me of him. He was a friend to so many, and remains an inspiration to all. I look forward to rattling his cage someday, and having that drink we never got around to.

Daniel Carter

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New Year's Message from Billy's Family

A few days after Billy suddenly collapsed near the end of the July 30 San Francisco Marathon Benefit for Cancer Research, his niece Lina Rose (7) entered the doorway of our home in Mill Valley, stopped, stuck her arms up in the air and proclaimed “Wow. It’s just like Uncle Bill is alive and living with us in this house, right now.” After Thanksgiving, Cathy & I took Lina and Dominic Chester (5) for a nighttime walk in the redwoods, each with their own flashlight. On return Dom announced, “Uncle Bill was with us on the walk. Lucky dog was too. We couldn’t see her, but Uncle Bill could”.

Billy’s physical resting place is a glorious 15 miles over to the coast at St. Mary Magdalene Cemetery near Bolinas where Billy, Cathy and Aimee bloomed on the mountain, beach and ocean. Billy was surfing off Bolinas this summer. One afternoon in July, near sunset, he called us on his cell while drying off after a Great White Shark sighting and reported he was bleeding from banging his shin on a rock. Ute and I scolded him with motherliness and fatherliness, knowing his liking of life. Billy’s headstone, from the Black Hills of Dakota, was selected by Ute for its strength, exquisite nature and its congenialness and getatableness for Lina and Dom to sit on. The stone has a small cameo, in two of Billy’s favorite colors, burnt orange and lemon yellow, showing a young Billy’s shadow against a grain elevator in Alberta while he was running on top of a railroad car.

Bolinas Ridge Road

Bolinas Ridge

Overlooking Stinson Beach and Bolinas Lagoon

Path to Stone Circle

Stone Circle

Through The Redwoods

St Mary Magdalene Cypress and Eucalyptus

Cathy and Lina Bringing Flowers

Billy's Headstone

Headstone Face With Cameo

Bolinas Lagoon

Photos by Ed Greenly, Aimee Goggins & Patrick Goggins

Our continuous appreciation to our Creator and you during this season of hope and love.
Cathy, Paul, Lina, Dominic, Aimee, Cedar, Ute and Pat Goggins family.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

For Bill

As I read these posts, I am moved by how others were also touched by the phrase taken by angels.

Taken by angels is a nice way of saying
that it seemed unusually severe and perverse
to stop a man in a race at the 24th mile.

The chairs in the café are still as we left them.
I can replay each word of our sidewalk stop and chat.
You left us with one too many mysteries.

That morning, as you got ready in the dark,
what milestone did you think you were about to reach?
Most peoples’ days hadn’t started by the time your heart stopped.
To be taken in such a perverse way.
And yet the idea of angels.

- Indu Subaiya

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Crossing paths with Bill

I worked very briefly as a freelance copyeditor at Wired way back in 1997. Bill was the only one there who took the time to talk to me about anything other than work. I ran into him about a year and a half ago, and he remembered me before I said a word to him. He had a rare ability and willingness to connect to others.