William C. Gonce

The Baltimore Sun

William C. Gonce, a retired funeral director who established the mortuary science program at Catonsville Community College, died Sept. 11 of complications from a liver transplant at Gil- christ Center for Hospice Care. The Rosedale resident was 62.

Mr. Gonce was born in Baltimore and raised in Northwood. He was a 1963 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School and earned a bachelor's degree in history from Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg. In 1974, he earned a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University.

His interest in the funeral business began during summers in his youth when he did odd jobs for his uncle, George J. Gonce, at the Gonce Funeral Home in Brooklyn.

In 1968, he graduated from the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service Inc. in New York City.

A licensed funeral director since 1970, Mr. Gonce worked for Charles S. Zeiler and Son Funeral Home in East Baltimore, until 2000.

In 1973, he founded the mortuary science program -- at the time, the only program in the state -- at what was then Catonsville Community College. He was chairman of the department that graduated 25 to 30 students a year from 1973 until retiring in 2004.

"His mantra on training for a career in funeral services was, 'This is not a business, this is a profession,'" said a sister, Patricia Gonce Morton of Cockeysville.

He was a collector of antique pocketknives.

Mr. Gonce was a communicant of St. Clement Mary Hofbauer Roman Catholic Church, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Saturday.

Also surviving are his wife of 34 years, the former Victoria Ditzler; two sons, Andrew W. Gonce of Atlanta and Stephen C. Gonce of Wilmington, Del.; a daughter, Emily C. Gonce of Hoboken, N.J.; and another sister, Jane Tamberino of Atlanta.

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