William Elbert "Bill" Goss died on Sunday, October 2, 2022 at age 92. He was a Tallassee, AL native, educator, historian, genealogist, author, preservationist and museum curator. He was born on Thursday, February 13, 1930 in East Tallassee, Tallapoosa County, AL, son of Lemuel Clinton Goss (1906 - 1973) and Erscle Melton (1908-1969).
In addition to his parents, Bill was preceded in death by his sisters, Dorothy Gaynell Goss Wyatt and Virginia Joyce Goss McClean; half-siblings, Van Clinton Goss and Pamela Goss Hughes; and brothers-in-law, William Brady "Pete" Wyatt and Morgan Eugene Prestwood.
He graduated from Tallassee High School in 1948, where he was president of the Student Council; Troy State Teachers College (now Troy University) in 1951 (B.S.), where he was a student leader; and Auburn University in 1958 (M.Ed.). He also attended West Texas State College, Canyon, TX, and did post-graduate work at the University of Florida.
Bill was unique and lived a life of service to others. His work ethic was amazing. For 78 years, he received a paycheck. He began working at age 13 at the Palace Café of the Woodall Hotel and received his last pay from Linville Memorial Funeral Home at age 91. Bill was an educator for 38 years. He lived and worked on four of the seven continents. His teaching career began at Troy High School (now Henderson High School), Troy, AL in September 1951. Because of the Korean War, he resigned in November 1951 and entered the USAF (1951-55). He received basic training at Lackland AFB, TX and Sheppard AFB, TX. The USAF sent him to administrative school at West Texas State College, Canyon, TX. Bill was administrative clerk at Westover AFB, MA; senior administrative clerk at Sidi Slimane Air Base, Morocco; and administrative supervisor (S/Sgt) at Eglin AFB, FL.
He returned to Charles Henderson High School in September 1955 (while still in the USAF, but on 60-days leave status) where he taught US history, English, US government, economics, journalism, Student Council and yearbook sponsors; and was a supervising teacher for Troy State College to train student teachers. Bill remained at Troy until June 1960 when he joined the Department o Defense Overseas Dependents Schools at Ramstein Junior High School (7-9), Ramstein, Germany (US history and Student Council sponsor); Assistant Principal, General H.H. Arnold High School (9-12), Wiesbaden, Germany; and Principal, Karamursel American School (grades 1-9), Karamursel, Turkey.
When Bill returned to the US from Turkey, he served as principal of Girard Junior High School, Dothan, AL. He became Assistant Principal at Riverside Military Academy, Gainesville, GA and its winter home in Hollywood, FL; Dean of Students at The Bolles School, Jacksonville, FL; taught English at Lafayette High School, Mayo, FL; was Community School Director, Hernando County Schools, Brooksville, FL for 13 years; taught US history/government at Trenton High School, Trenton, FL; principal at Grant Center Hospital School (7-12), Ocala, FL, a residential psychiatric hospital for emotionally disturbed children and teenagers; and GED teacher, Mayo Correctional Prison School (9-12), Mayo, FL.
On December 1, 1995, after 47 years living elsewhere, Bill returned to his hometown of Tallassee. During his 27 retirement years in Tallassee, he worked six years at the Hotel Talisi as cashier and tour guide and 18 years as a funeral attendant at Jeffcoat Funeral Home and Linville Memorial Funeral Home. For 15 years, he was a Commander, Tallassee American Legion Post 118. Bill was an elections poll worker for 20 years. He was active in the Tallassee High School Alumni Association for nine years and served as chair of the THS Hall of Pride Committee and the Alumni Scholarship Committee. In 2001 the Tallassee Chamber of Commerce honored him with the Frances Herren Wagnon Award for volunteerism and his service as Tallassee tour guide. In 2016 Bill was inducted into the Tallassee High School Hall of Pride. He also served as co-chair of the Troy University World War II Era Reunion Committee. At age 92, he continued to research and compile genealogies for family and friends.
Bill was an avid Tallassee historian and dedicated preservationist. Tallassee's rich heritage and culture were important to him. He wanted it preserved. For more than 27 years he researched and published it in books, magazines and newspapers. For 24 years he was an active member of the Talisi Historical Preservation Society and served as secretary, historian and museum curator/director. In 2004 he and Bob Brown removed the 1860s Micou-Sistrunk-Carr House for the society. In 2004 he acquired the 1898 Tallassee Mills Superintendent's house from the City of Tallassee and helped renovate it for the society. For more than 20 years, each Wednesday morning on WTLS radio, he presented a live 45-minute broadcast about Tallassee's history, In 2022, the City of Tallassee named a park in his honor.
In 2008, when Tallassee was 100 years old as an incorporated city, he served on the City Centennial Committee. Bill co-authored a pictorial history, Images of America: Tallassee. Goss discovered that there was no record or photographs of the first eight mayors (1908-1948) at Tallassee City Hall. Bill compiled a list and obtained photographs of those mayors. He recommended that a City of Tallassee flag be created. He was guest-editor of the 68 pages centennial edition of The Tallassee Tribune, the largest ever published in Tallassee. In 2014 Bill also co-authored Gladys McNair's 1941 Study of Tallassee.
As a preservationist, he wrote the text for three historical markers: "History of Tallassee; Confederate Officers Houses; and General Birkett Davenport Fry, CSA." On June 7, 2013, the Tallassee Falls Museum opened with Bill as its first director/curator. He spent 18 years collecting documents, photographs, books and artifacts for twelve exhibits. For six years, he kept it open 20 hours a week. In 2019, Bill was instrumental in erecting a historical marker for Seminole leader Osceola, who was born in the Muskogee (Creek) village of Talisi. Goss also designed and erected historical signs for the 1844 Patterson Log Cabin and the 1941 Tallassee Mills Guest House.
Bill is survived by sister Elizabeth Goss Prestwood, Sanford, NC and half-brother Randall "Randy" Goss, San Diego, CA; brother-in-law Raymond J. "Ray" McClean, Pensacola, FL; nephews David (Janis) Wyatt, Alpine, AL, Stephen Prestwood, San Francisco, CA, Brennan McClean and Barrett (Beth) McClean, Pensacola, FL; and Michael McClean, New Orleans, LA; nieces Janice Wyatt (Keith) Sailers, Lawrenceville, GA, Monquie McClean (Lars) Topelmann, Ephraim, WI, Marcia Prestwood (Bob) Morrell, Lewisville, NC, Sherry Prestwood, Cary, NC, Elisa Prestwood, Raleigh, NC, Edee McClean Hart, Chicago, IL; cousins Vera Goss Webster, Stacy (Becky) Goss, Ray (Patsy) Goss, John Goss, Ben and Bill Goss, W. C. Bryant, Laura Bryant Harris and Don (Anne) Bryant.
Bill was grateful for special friends Patricia Perry Anthony, Brett Ashurst, Leigh Anne and Michael Butler, Sarah Covington, Paula and Bill Godwin, Fay Lock Jones, Madonna Linville, Brad and Sherry Linville, Fay and Archie McDow, Kristina and Darryl Pendergrass, Kami and Joey Scarborough and Susannah and Darrell Wilson for their love, respect, assistance and care.
During his lifetime, Bill was an active member of the East Tallassee Baptist Church, Troy First Baptist Church, Troy Kiwanis Club, Dothan Rotary Club, Tallassee American Legion Post 118, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Troy University Alumni Association and National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The family will receive friends on Monday, October 10, 2022 beginning at 11:30 am with memorial service to follow at 12 noon at Linville Memorial Funeral Home. The service will be live on Facebook at 12 noon.
Expressions of sympathy may be memorial contributions to Tallassee High School Alumni Assn, 305 James St, Tallassee, AL 36078. Online condolences at www.linvillememorial.com.
Linville Memorial Funeral Home and Crematory, Eclectic, Alabama
Privacy Disclaimer. The information contained in this obituary is intended solely for the private use of the families and friends of the deceased to support each other and honor, respect and pay tribute to the memory of the deceased. Any and all other use is strictly prohibited unless consent is provided in writing by the funeral home. Without limiting the foregoing, any reproduction, distribution of the information contained herein, nor any contact or solicitation of any person identified in this work, nor any attempt to use the information in the work is prohibited.