William Hellmuth “Bill” Gottwald was born on June 7, 1928 in San Diego, CA, the third of four children born to Karl Wilhelm and Anna Katie Gottwald, emigrants from Germany. He died at home on November 9, 2020, following a prolonged illness at the age of 92.
Like his older brother, Carl, Bill excelled in San Diego public schools – Euclid Elementary, Woodrow Wilson Junior High, and Hoover High School. He graduated San Diego State College with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Bill served four years in the United States Coast Guard, where he graduated at the top of his class in the Coast Guard’s AE/AM “A” School for aircraft mechanics at the Naval Training Center in Memphis, TN.
Following his service in the Coast Guard, Bill pursued a career in mechanical engineering and spent much of the 1960s in West Germany working for Messerschmidt Aircraft. He also worked for Whittaker Corporation. Bill is listed as the primary author in patents issued in the mid-1980s for a mechanical absorption arm for the back of utility vehicles, a system implemented by Caltrans shortly thereafter. Around the same time, he was involved in the development of various systems tied to road construction and safety. He founded United Research and Manufacturing, Inc. in Costa Mesa, CA during the mid-1970s, a business that continues in Vista, CA.
Bill was an avid collector of classic vehicles and attended the Antique Auto Show of America’s October events in Hershey, PA annually until his health prevented his attendance. His collection ranges from a late-model Ferrari to 1930s-era Fords, Lincolns, Cadillacs, Packards, and Mercurys. He included, among his friends, several local legends in the classic car community – Ernie Follis and Dave and Debbie Clark. He was also an enthusiastic bowler with his brother Carl.
More recently, Bill enjoyed driving the cart and dog-sitting Wally while his nephew, Ron, and his nephew-in-law, Steve, played golf.
Beginning at age six, Bill fostered a love of travel when he joined his mother and sister, Katie Gertrude, on an extended trip to Germany to visit family. His mother fondly recalled chasing a young Bill on the ship’s deck to prevent him from falling over the edge. He spent subsequent decades traveling with his siblings. In 2012, he joined his brother and other family members on a cruise to Alaska and a tour of Denali National Park.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Karl Wilhelm and Anna Katie Gottwald, his brother, Carl Gottwald, his sisters, Katie Marguerite Gottwald, who died in infancy, and Katie Gertrude Darland, and a great-nephew, Kyle James Barron.
He is survived by a niece Pamela (Steve) Burns of La Mesa, CA, nephew Ronald (Jill) Darland of Carlsbad, CA, great-nieces and nephews, Kirsten (Rex) Kinney of Shoreline, WA, Kamron (Joseph) Clifford of Plainfield, NH, Kellee (Todd) Bolen of Woodbridge, VA, Parker Darland of San Diego, CA, Ian Darland of Carlsbad, CA, and Shea Darland of Portland, OR. In addition, he is survived by ten great-great nieces and nephews.
At this time, a private service will be held for immediate family with interment at Greenwood Cemetery. His family is incredibly grateful to the treatment provided by Marguerite and Julie at Boutique Care Management and his caregivers – Sandy, Luz, and Ben.