Dr. William H. Gonzalez, distinguished Professor of Medieval Spanish Literature at the University of Utah, died on December 14, 2017 at age 82.
William was born in Monticello, UT on April 7, 1935. At Monticello High School he played on the basketball team and was elected student body president his senior year in 1953.
After graduating with his BA from San Jose State College, Bill served as a medic in the US Army stationed in Chicago. At age 26, he pursued seminary studies in Spain; the Pontifical University of Salamanca awarded him a Licentiate in Theology.
In 1970, he returned to Salt Lake City and began as a PhD graduate student and teaching assistant at the University of Utah; he received his PhD in Spanish in 1977.
He continued teaching at the University, making his way from Instructor to Full Professor, until his retirement in 2002. William taught for over 30 years. He was not only the students’ professor, but also their counselor, mentor, tutor and role model.
William took twelve years to compile and transcribe sacred ballads for his book “Romancero Religioso de la Tradicion Oral” (Religions Ballads of the Oral Tradition).
Growing up in Monticello, Bill heard people chanting these ballads. He was given the notebook in which his father had written the texts of many of them.
He researched the Archivo in Madrid, which owns a huge collection of religious ballads, often written on little pieces of paper.
He spent summers traveling throughout southeastern Utah, southwestern Colorado and northern New Mexico gathering oral recordings and written documents of these religious ballads. He was the first person to categorize and publish them.
This scholarly book was well received in the U.S. and Spain. In 1997, William was invited to join the Royal Spanish Academy. At that time, he was only the second U.S. citizen and one of 26 members outside Spain to be so recognized.
For over 25 years, William was also active in the Hispanic community in many capacities and received numerous awards.
Funeral services are pending.