As a clerk at a beverage store, Eduardo Eddie Gonzalez survived a robbery and shooting that inspired his decades-long career in law enforcement.
After a stint as an Air Force police officer, he went on to become deputy director the Metro Dade Police Department, moved on to become the Tampa Police Chief and was later tapped by former President Bill Clinton to lead the U.S. Marshals Service.
Gonzalez died Friday in Kendall of a heart attack. He was 73.
Though he was best-known for his professional career, Gonzalezs family remembers him as an avid traveler who considered Spain his second homeland, a food connoisseur with a soft spot for the Home Depot hotdog stands, and an irreverent comedian who would make you laugh and blush at the same time.
He was successful in his professional career. But as a man, as a husband, as a grandfather, as father, he was second to none, said David Calzadilla, Gonzalezs grandson.
Gonzalez was born in Tampa and moved to Miami after high school, earning a bachelors degree in criminal justice from Florida International University. He joined the Metro police department in 1965 and by 1986, Gonzalez was named deputy director.
It was there that he met his wife, Marina. The two wed in Las Vegas 33 years ago on Valentines Day. Together, they formed a blended family with children from previous relationships. Marina still remembers what attracted her to Eddie.
He had a great personality, always making me laugh at everything. And also his looks: He had a great mustache, Marina said.
Eddie Gonzalez retired from the Metro police force in 1992 and then went on the lead the Tampa Police Department as chief. He had a soft spot for his hometown, said one of his daughters, Sandy Perez-Alvarez.
He loved Tampa. Thats deep in his heart, she said.
While there, Perez-Alvarez said her dad was especially proud of a policy he implemented regarding when officers were allowed to engage in chases, reducing the number of dangerous pursuits.
He told the police, Dont do that anymore, because youre hurting innocent bystanders, she said.
Gonzalez was later picked to lead the U.S. Marshals Service and the family moved to Washington, D.C. His family said Gonzalez was responsible for preparing a government-wide plan to secure federal buildings after the Oklahoma City bombing. He served as director of the service from 1993-1999.
The Gonzalezs then made their way back to South Florida. Theyve bounced around Miami-Dade County Eddie Gonzalez liked to buy and sell properties living in Miami Beach, Coral Gables and, most recently, Kendall.
Eddie Gonzalez is survived by his wife; his daughters, Perez-Alvarez, Christy Kian and Julie Abbuhl; his grandchildren David Calzadilla, Jessica Kian, Emily Kian and Nathan Abbuhl; and his great-granddaughter Trinity Calzadilla.
A service will be held from 6 p.m. to midnight on Monday at Bernardo Garcia Funeral Home Kendall Chapel, 12050 SW 117th Ave. The interment will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at Woodlawn Park Cemetery South, 11655 SW 117th Ave.
A previous version of this article misspelled Julie and Nathan Abbuhl's last name.