William J. Roach

April 1, 1925May 17, 2013

ROACH William James Roach, 88, of Jacksonville, passed away on May 17, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida. He was born on April 1, 1925 in Summit, New Jersey to the late Phillip Victor and Ada Mae (Wagner) Roach. He was reared in White Plains, New York, and was graduated from White Plains High School. He earned his B. A. at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and his Masters in Journalism at the University of Georgia. In 1943, Bill enlisted in the Navy, where he met Dorothy Marie Christopher, a Yeoman First Class. They married August 25, 1946, and enjoyed 65 years together until her death, March 5, 2011.

He was a veteran of WWII and the Korean War and retired as a Commander in 1983 after 40 years of service in the Navy and Navy Reserve. He was an instructor in the Naval Correspondents Training Schools in Chicago, Illinois, and later founded the journalism department at Good Counsel College (now the College of White Plains) in New York, where taught for ten years. In 1973, he joined the then-Department of Languages and Literature at the University of North Florida to help create the communications program and to reach out to Jacksonville's many communications businesses and professionals. He did this with distinction, and the program flourished, paving the way to becoming a major--and today as UNF's largest program.

From 1973 to 1990, he taught the entire curriculum of journalism and public relations at UNF, where he taught for 17 of his 30 years in university classrooms. One of his numerous accomplishments was forming the school’s first student newspaper, "The Halyard" and later, "The Spinnaker." Also, in 1984, the national Public Relations Society of America bestowed upon his class of advanced public relations writing students, the PRSA's most prestigious honor, the Silver Anvil Award. At the time, they were the only educational group ever to win the award, and their competition included the country’s largest public relations firms in New York and Chicago. The honor was in recognition of his students' plan for the city’s then new “Keep Jacksonville Beautiful” campaign. Bill published more than 150 magazine articles, most with his own photography.He was also a prolific book reviewer for the Florida Times-Union and the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, among others. Along with being a reporter, columnist and editor for daily newspapers, and an extensive public relations career, he was also active in the Boy Scouts of America as a Scout Master for over a decade, and an Eagle Scout himself He was a member of several organizations: The College of Fellows of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), MENSA, and the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jacksonville, to name just three.

Bill is survived by his daughters, Sharon Eileen Young and Patricia Lee Holley; his grandchildren, Raymond E. Walker and Christina M. McEuen, Kate Lynn Wilkins, and Jennifer C. Young; his great-grandchildren, William McEuen, Jeffrey McEuen, Trystan Walker, Ayden Walker, Lucas D'Avignon and Levi D'Avignon.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 am on Saturday, May 25th at St. Joseph's Historic Church, 4152 Loretto Rd. Jacksonville, with the Rev. Dan Cody as Celebrant, followed by interment in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made in memory of William to the St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Arrangements are under the care and direction of Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home of Mandarin, 11801 San Jose Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32223. (904) 288-0025


  • Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, May 25, 2013

William J. Roach

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Bonnie Joseph-Spence

November 7, 2013

To the family of William Roach,

I am so very sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

I minored in Journalism at University of North Florida in the 70's and have always remembered Mr. Roach, my wonderful professor. I learned so much from him. He will truly be missed. My deepest condolences remain with you.

May 30, 2013

Mr Roach was one of my favorite professors at UNF. He loved his students and teaching Public Relations and Communications. We had a wonderful time working on projects and listening to his stories about his experiences in the industry. I will always think of him and how he helped me in developing my career path.
My Deepest Sympathy,
Deborah Cannon Bundy

Marla Crews Bryant

May 24, 2013

Mr. Roach was my favorite Communications teacher at UNF and I owe much of my success in broadcasting to him. He was a great teacher, always happy and smiling. He will be missed by all of us who were lucky to learn from him.

Bruce Sonn

May 24, 2013

Bill taught Phil and me how to play baseball, how to fish, how to build a radio and how to send Morse code between our houses on a telegraph line that ran through Sharon's bedroom! His passion for the outdoors and camping was contagious and he led us through the scouting program. His community spirit and idealism inspired me to join the Navy to pursue a career of service. He helped me get accepted to the US Naval Academy. The lessons he taught and example he set continue to influence the way I lead my life. I knew he was a gifted and also a modest man but it wasn't until my last visit with him a few months ago and my talk with Tricia a few days ago that I heard about his heroism in WWII. When a sister ship was blown up by a German mine, he dove into the freezing water to rescue her crew, despite being wounded himself by the blast. He never mentioned being a member of Mensa either.
He brought a lot of light into this world and continues to do so through the lives of the many people who were privileged and blessed to have known him and his wonderful family.
Bruce and Rhonda Sonn

Joyce Ridner

May 23, 2013

Mr. Roach was my professor at UNF. He was a kind man who always had time for his students, listened to them, and offered great advice. I learned so much from him about writing, public relations, journalism and how to be a great teacher. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

May 20, 2013

I am sorry for your loss. I hope you will find some comfort in these words. (Romans 15:33)

Gary and Pat Walker

May 20, 2013

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.