William H. Roetzheim

August 7, 1928February 26, 2014

ROETZHEIM, William Henry, 85, of Plant City, passed away on Wednesday, February 26, 2014. He was born in Chicago, IL, and was a U.S. Army Veteran with the 101st Airborne Division, serving our country during the Korean War. Bill Roetzheim was a highly successful gymnast, winning 9 National Championships in AAU and NCAA competition. He was a member of two USA Olympic Gymnastics Teams (1948, 1952). He was the first American to bring home gold in the Pan American Games in 1951. Roetzheim served as a superior judge at the Olympic Games in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996. In 1951 while a sophomore at FSU, William Roetzheim single handedly outscored all gymnastics teams in the National Collegiate Gymnastic Championships, winning FSU the first national athletic team championship in any sport. Roetzheim was inducted into the Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1975 followed by his induction into the inaugural FSU Hall of Fame class of 1977. Roetzheim coached high school gymnastics for 14 years (1955-1968) winning three state championships. He served as Gymnastics coach and later Athletic Director at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1968 until his retirement in 1985. Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Betty Jo; sons, Richard (Kathy), William Jr. (Marianne); daughter, Marlene Olson (John); sister, Helen Mehler; 10 grandchildren, Elizabeth, William III, Regina, Donnie, Eric, Mark, Kevin, Maggie, Kirsten, Alex; and one great granddaughter, Reyna. A funeral service will be held at Wells Memorial and Event Center on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 2pm. The family will receive friends one hour prior. Burial will take place at Oaklawn Cemetery West. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hillsborough County Animal Services or another charity of choice. Condolences may be offered at


  • Visitation Saturday, March 1, 2014
  • Funeral Service Saturday, March 1, 2014

William H. Roetzheim

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john meyer

December 13, 2014

I graduated from Proviso East High School in 1968. Bill Roetzheim was my coach. He instilled self discipline in me and drive to excel as a still ring performer.Thanks Chief.

Barbara Leahy-Edwards

June 12, 2014

BJ I am so saddened by Bill's passing. I think of you both from time to time and all the wonderful times bob and I shared with both of you. Bill gave me my first job and always believed in his staff and made it fun along the way. He was truly a special man. Give my best to your family, seems like it had grown with beautiful grandchildren! Bob passed away last May out of the blue so. My heart aches for you. Sending love and hugs. If you ever come back his way I would love to catch up. God bless.

Rich Lapham

April 5, 2014

Greatest years of my life were the 4 years at Proviso. Chief took this 100 pound weakling and coached me to State champion in my senior year 1960. I remember going over to his house for some "Extra" coaching at times. Loved you also BJ.

john meyer

April 2, 2014

Chief was a great high school coach. I graduated in 1968.I was on Proviso East's gymnastics team from 1966-68. I was a still rings specialist. Chief instilled discipline in all of us. Thanks to him I was a pretty fair college gymnast at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Il. Mr. Roetzheim will be missed.

Ed Zimmer

March 7, 2014

I knew the day would come when we would lose Chief. Still, it hit me hard when I read the words. So many thoughts instantly came to me. He was certainly one of the biggest influences in my life not only as a coach, but as a mentor and friend. As a College coach, he always promised us that if we graduated, he would get us our first job. After that, he said, it was up to us to succeed. It was probably easier to find jobs for the education majors, but my degree was in business. True to his word, he helped me get my first job at Porter, an athletic equipment manufacturer. He later supported me as I entered college coaching, and recommended me for a position on the USGF executive staff. Each of these were life changing experiences, and Bill was always available as my mentor and friend on this journey.
I was blessed to have had three great coaches...Tony Canino taught me how to work hard, Bruce Davis taught me gymnastics, and because of them, I was privileged to be coached by Chief, who taught me how to live with confidence, raise my personal expectations, and to take on tasks much larger than I thought possible. And this was all delivered with a sense of humor. The lessons I learned from Chief were never far from my thoughts. My eternal thanks go to Bill. All best wishes to Betty Jo, Billy, Marlene and Richie.

Dan Swetman

March 6, 2014

It's amazing how many times I think or do something that I learned from "The Chief" ... The answer to the question WWCD? (What Would Chief Do?) still solves many problems ... I had the extraordinary experience of not only having Chief for my homeroom teacher (yes, he influenced me before I ever walked into the gym), coach in High School and College, but also coaching both of his sons … I can remember bringing MY sons to meet BJ at her school … Wow … What a couple … strength, integrity, wisdom, character, charm, humor, insight … Chief had a story or a maxim for every situation … One of my favorites is, “If you haven't spent your whole budget on the last day of the year, buy a case of socks, or whatever you need to go over budget -- otherwise they will lower your budget next year, because they think you didn't need that much.” Another is: “I don‘t want an anatomy of your hands (with 9 ‘rips') – I want a routine!” After that one, he “kicked me out of the gym” … I sat in the empty locker room crying, because I had just been kicked out of the gym, but years later, I realized what great wisdom he showed – He knew that the best thing for me was to leave, but he didn't say, “Poor baby, I bet those hands really hurt – why don't you take the rest of the day off” … His lessons helped me raise my kids, earn a doctorate, teach my students … and LIVE … Good-bye, Chief, you are already missed …………….

Proviso East, '67; UICC, '71

March 6, 2014

William Roetzheim had that rarest quality of all- always sought after, but often a mirage- Chief was a true leader.
He took a motley crew of misfits and lost souls, and made them better than they could ever be. We learned to believe in ourselves and what it meant to be a team. We were Marines.

Thanks, Chief (and BJ) for all you did for us.

Mike Gentile

Chuck Cunningham

March 5, 2014

My prayers go out to you BJ and the rest of the Roetzheim family. Bill gave me my first job as a college tennis coach at UIC, a career that lasted twenty-five years. With no experience, he trusted me with starting a program from scratch, an experience that opened the doors to many wonderful opportunities in the tennis industry that would never have occurred were it not for him. I will be eternally grateful to Bill for that opportunity and all that has come my way as a result of his decision.

Joyce Tanac Schroeder

March 4, 2014

BJ, I was so sorry to hear of "Chief's" passing. I have so many fun and special memories of him (and you) from our tour to the Middle East. I always felt this tour was a reward for all the training camps I went through. His smile and laugh will always be in my mind and I will never forget those 20 minute walks! My thoughts are with you and your family at this time.

Richard (Dick) Swetman

March 4, 2014

The "Chief" What a great human being. I was on a state championship high school team at Proviso East led by Bill in 1966 and I went to the Middle East on a State Department Good Will tour with Chief and BJ -- an unforgettable experience. Bill always had a story or joke to keep the gym a fun place to be. I spent after school time in the gym for 4 years and it was one of the highlight periods of my life. He encouraged us all to aspire to great things. The first day my father came to the gym to visit a practice, Chief told my father that I would be a state champion. That comment was emblazoned on my psyche and it came true. Chief had a way of getting the most out of his guys. Our high school team was an unlikely combination of "climbers" and "greasers" but Chief pulled us together to win that state championship. We will all miss him. Love to you BJ!!!