William John Piltz
October 27, 1941 – October 1, 2021
William John “Bill” Piltz passed away painlessly exactly at the stroke of midnight on October 1, 2021 in Sarasota, Florida. He was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin as the beloved son of John W. Piltz and Elaine Kitzie Piltz, an intellectual couple who loved the outdoors. Bill grew up with a deep appreciation of nature, learning, and automobiles, passions that he pursued his entire life. While at the University of Wisconsin, he was drafted into the United States Army where he was assigned to an engineer battalion in Vietnam creating and defending troop support landing zones in the jungle. Bill was eventually assigned to a search and rescue squad, tasked with leaving the zone to find and rescue downed pilots. He served 11 months in combat.
When he returned home, Bill moved to Sarasota, where he founded the 12th Street Garage as a master mechanic. For almost 45 years, 12th Street Garage was the shop of choice for a broad array of Sarasota residents who entrusted their cars to Bill and would stay to chat about their families and lives. Bill helped everyone who visited him, whether they could pay or not. Lawyers would wait for their cars with circus performers and police officers and single moms. Bill became friends with artists and writers, fishermen and college students. He mentored young mechanics and enjoyed laughing with his old friends each day at lunch. Bill’s greatest love, however, was family. He is survived by his beloved daughter, Amiee Buckman (Drake), three adored grandchildren, Alisha Buckman (Jonathan), Allie Castellano (Nicholas) and Trey Buckman, and two great-grandchildren, Tripp and Adeline Castellano, each of Sarasota. His role as a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather filled him with immense pride. He transformed the concrete walls of his garage with hundreds of photographs of his family. Customers would drop their cars off and Bill would point out new additions to the collection.
In the summers he learned to fish and the patterns of the tides. Boats were bought and sold. Stone crab season opened on Amiee’s birthday, and each fall he taught his family to set and pull traps. Scuba began as a hobby, then a passion. His daughter and grandchildren dove the coastal depths with him, looking for treasure. For his last dive, which he took with all three of his grandchildren at the age 76, in thirty feet of water a thousand yards off Venice Beach, he recovered a Megalodon tooth almost seven inches long.
Bill was a man who could be depended upon in any situation by his friends and family. His loss is felt throughout the Sarasota community by those he knew and those he loved. He was preceded in death by his parents, and his sister, Judith Sandberg, and his brother-in-law, Robert Sandberg. His internment will be in the Sarasota National Cemetery on October 25, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations in his memory to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Sarasota National Cemetery