Saturday, October 2, 2021

My Memories of Bill Gottfried: Bill and Toby Forever



Yesterday, Caro wrote a moving tribute to Bill Gottfried who passed away on Thursday.  In it, she set out the unique way he and his wife, Toby, had of welcoming newbie authors into the family of crime writers.  He’d yank them into the limelight at a mystery convention by surprising them with questions at their panels “that would cross a rabbi's eyes!"  It was an honor to be a target of his erudition.  And you couldn’t help but love him for it.


I’d like to pick up a little later down the road.  Yes, Toby and Bill put me through the same paces–and never seemed to stop–but what I remember most about Bill was the joy and love he and Toby brought to every interaction we ever had. We became friends from the start, but to be honest, I don’t think my literary efforts had as much to do with kicking off our friendship as did his learning that my son is a rabbi…and that Barbara is in my life.


Many know that Bill and Toby were a moving force in Left Coast Crime, but I’m not sure how many realize the key role they also played in helping Adrian Muller and his colleagues establish CrimeFest in Bristol UK.  Bill and Toby weren’t “just” crime fiction fans, but medical professionals well versed in how to address problems and get things done.  I’ll miss our Sunday evening dinners in Bristol. 


I wish I had photos of those dinners and the many breakfasts we shared at their favorite haunt in Manhattan, P.J. Bernstein’s Deli on Third Avenue and 70th Street. It sat between our apartment and the relative’s home where they stayed when in New York City. All I have is a photo of Bill bringing joy once more to Barbara.


They also were great fans of us here at Murder is Everywhere. Caro’s post has a photo of Bill wearing our “official” tee-shirt.  Here’s a glimpse of Bill holding court at the perimeter of a MIE group photo (L-R–top Stan, Michael, Caro, Yrsa, Bill; bottom Jeff, Leighton)

And here’s another taken in 2011 at St. Louis Bouchercon of Bill and Toby embraced by Leighton’s wife, Eide.


But my most memorable moment is the deep honor I had while serving as Chair of Bouchercon, when I presided at the presentation of the David Thompson Memorial  Special Service Award to Bill and Toby at the 2015 Raleigh Convention for their “extraordinary efforts to develop and promote the crime fiction field.”.

Yep, that's Zoë in the front row next to Toby and Billill


Janet Rudolph (the 2021 David Thompson Award winner) provided the heartfelt introduction back then, and yesterday wrote a
moving eulogy to Bill that I commend all to read.


God bless Bill's lovely, caring soul. May his memory be a blessing to us all.


Zichrono Livracha.


–Jeff and Barbara


  1. He and his wife were kind to all writers, well known or not.

  2. Absolutely, Marilyn. They are an eternal reminder of how each of us should treat one another.

  3. What a beautifully done piece honoring such a wonderful sounding soul! Thinking of all of you who were blessed to be touched by this man and his wife.

    1. Thank you, Jackie and Joel, not just for your kind words, but for being another dynamic duo who contributes to making the world a better place.

    2. It's a lovely piece, Jeff. Bill was a magnificent human being and I shall miss him.

    3. Thanks, Zoë. Bill certainly was, and he thought the world of you.

  4. Beautiful, Jeff. May his memory be a blessing to us all.