William (Bill) Gonyo (1919 - 2012)

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Gonyo, William (Bill)

William (Bill) James Gonyo died at Aurora Medical Center on Friday, November 16, 2012 at the age of 93.

Bill was born on October 4, 1919 in the Town of Aurora, Waushara County to James and Eva (Rodencal) Gonyo. He attended country school in rural Berlin and moved to Oshkosh with his family in 1927 when he was in the third grade

He attended and graduated from Oshkosh High School in June 1938. Bill then was employed at Rockwell International from October 1939 to December 1941 when he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps two weeks after Pearl Harbor was bombed.

After ten months of overseas training Bill was assigned as a waist gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress, the Yankee Queen. He landed in Africa on Christmas Day 1942 and flew the first of 50 bombing missions in North Africa, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and Naples, Italy. As an aerial gunner, he attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. Upon returning to the United States in mid-June 1943 he was assigned to Kingman Army Air Base in Kingman, Arizona, where he was in charge of a group of aerial gunnery instructors.

He was discharged as a Technical Sergeant from Sparta, Wisconsin on September 22, 1945. Bill was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, the European (Africa) Campaign medal with two battle starts, the American Defense medal, the American campaign medal, and the Victory and Good Conduct medal.

After his years in the military he returned to Rockwell International for a short period of time. On January 1, 1946, he was appointed as a Patrolman on the Oshkosh Police Department. On May 3, 1947 Bill married Geraldine N. Ruhl. They celebrated 61 years together before her death in 2008.

In 1968, following an intensive and rigorous investigative and nomination process, Bill was appointed to and graduated from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

He progressed through the ranks of the Oshkosh Police Department and on October 30, 1972 was appointed Chief of Police of the Oshkosh Police Department. After serving over 35 years on the department he retired on March 1, 1981. Following his retirement Bill worked part-time as a security guard at the EAA Museum, where he made many friends. He retired from the museum when he turned 80.

In 1989 Bill attended his first bomber reunion at which time nine of the ten crew members of the Yankee Queen were present. This was the first time in over 40 years that the crew was together again. He attended all subsequent reunions and was the sole surviving member of his crew.

Bill was active in numerous organizations as a board member of the Boys and Girls Club, the Wisconsin Juvenile Officers' Association, the International Chiefs of Police Association, and was a lifetime member of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association.

Bill and Ed Misch of the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department were two of the first instructors to teach in the Criminal Justice Program conducted by Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton. Bill recalls no fancy classroom as the classes were held in the attic of a Lutheran church in Appleton.

At age 92 Bill remained in touch with his former police officers with a weekly lunch at a local restaurant and a monthly breakfast at the Fin and Feather with former police colleagues from the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department and the Neenah, Menasha, and Oshkosh Police Departments.

Bill became the head of the first centralized record bureau of the police department under Chief William Golz. As a Lieutenant under Chief Harry Guenther Bill started the first Youth Aid Bureau and from that started the first detective bureau along with Captain Cyril Boushele. Bill also started the first school crossing guard program in 1953.

Survivors include two daughters, Paula (Danny) Cartwright and Julie (Tom) Kumbier; three grandchildren, Jeremy Kumbier of Oshkosh, Jacki (Bill) Curry of LaCrosse, and Kayla Kumbier of Oshkosh; two step-grandchildren, Andy (Kim) Cartwright of Escanaba and Ann of Oshkosh; two great grandsons, Justus and Malachi Curry; and two step-great grandchildren, Samantha and Alex Cartwright. Also surviving is a brother Newell of Milwaukee and numerous nephews and nieces.

Preceding Bill in death were his parents, James and Eva (Rodencal) Gonyo; brother and sister-in-law George and Helen (Piechowski) Gonyo; sister and brother-in-law Ruth (Lester) Friday; sister and brother-in-law Catherine (Carroll) Thill; sister-in-law Anne Gonyo; and brother- and sister-in-law Douglas and Lois Ruhl.

The family would like to thank Gabriel's Villa and Aurora Medical Center for their loving and tender care. In lieu of flowers of memorial has been established.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Bill will be held on Monday November 19, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Jude -St Vincent Church (216 W South Park Ave) with Fr Bill Van De Kreeke officiating. Visitation will be from 9:00 a.m. to the time of Mass. Interment will be at Riverside Cemetery with military honors.

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Published in Oshkosh Northwestern on Nov. 17, 2012
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