Bill Goldman
Bill Goldman

Popular professor Bill Goldman, grandson of Bay Area philanthropists, dies in plane crash

William Sachs Goldman of San Francisco, the 38-year-old grandson of prominent Bay Area philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman and a popular professor at University of San Francisco, was killed on July 13 when the single-engine private plane he was piloting crashed in Sonoma County. On board were his children Marie, 8, and George, 6, who are expected to recover, and their nanny, who suffered critical injuries.

The accident happened shortly after takeoff. Video taken after the crash shows the plane with one of its wings torn off and a parachute lying nearby in the field just north of Sonoma Skypark Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration reportedly is investigating.

Bill Goldman, as he was known, was the son of Susan Sachs Goldman of Washington, D.C., and the late Richard W. Goldman. He also was the nephew of Bay Area philanthropists John D. and Marcia Goldman and Douglas E. and Lisa Goldman and Susan Gelman of Maryland.

Richard and Rhoda Goldman founded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

Bill Goldman attended Yale University before receiving his doctorate from UC Berkeley in 2009 and was an assistant professor in international studies at USF, teaching courses that included “The World Since 1945” and “Colonialism and Empire.”

“The University of San Francisco community is devastated to learn of the death of faculty member Bill Goldman,” USF President Paul Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Bill was an accomplished scholar, a beloved and generous teacher and a valued member of our community.”

USF alum Chalwe Mwansa was on campus July 14 to drop off flowers in Goldman’s honor. “He was family. He was one of us,” Mwansa told NBC Bay Area.

Goldman and his two siblings established a family foundation in 2012 focusing on underserved young children. He also was a board member of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund and the New York-based New Israel Fund.

“Bill was fiercely dedicated to the New Israel Fund’s work to promote democracy and equality for all Israelis,” Daniel Sokatch, chief executive of the NIF, said in a statement on the organization’s website. “His vision, idealism, and sharp sense of humor sustained us all.”

Goldman’s wife, Serra Falk Goldman, is an attorney at the law firm of Falk, Cornell & Associates in San Carlos and a member of the USF board of trustees.

Rob Gloster

Rob Gloster z"l was J.'s senior writer from 2016-2019.