Attorney and youth sports coach Roland Gomez of Miami Lakes died Nov. 29 from complications after a short illness, his son said.
He was 84.
Perhaps the greatest legacy one can leave is to have positively affected others during a lifetime.
And Gomez’s impact upon young athletes, his family and lifelong friends reflect the kindness and time that he gave.
“In simple terms, our dad was always our – meaning all of us, my mother, sisters, grandchildren – biggest fan, supporter and protector in all respects,” said Richard Gomez, his son.
The elder Gomez was a lifelong athlete and booster of sports for kids.
An annual Optimist Club scholarship of $1,000 given to a boy and girl student-athlete in Miami Lakes is named for him, a four-decade old program.
“When it came to figuring out who to name it after, Roland was the most outstanding volunteer that we had for a number of years and it was an easy decision to make,” said Jim Hamilton, treasurer of the club.
“There is a long history of him coaching girls soccer, and he took teams to Russia and Sweden.
“Though nobody knew it, he funded quite a bit toward those trips,” Hamilton said. “For those girls who couldn’t pay, Roland always had their backs.”
Roland Gomez was born in Brooklyn, NY. His family briefly lived in Tampa before moving to Miami, according to an obituary he wrote for his survivors 20 years ago.
He attended Miramar Elementary, Citrus Grove Junior High and Miami High School, where he was an offensive and defensive lineman on a pair of teams that were recognized as state champions.
Gomez earned undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Florida and married Flossie McTeigue in 1962.
He started the family firm the Law Offices of Gomez & Gomez in Miami in 1988.
He was recognized for his trial practice and insurance defense litigation, and wrote that he tried about 350 cases to verdicts for clients including the Hertz Corporation; Aetna Casualty and Surety and Travelers Insurance.
He won a $12 million verdict in a case against a bank and $6.5 million in a lawsuit against an insurer.
The Florida Bar awarded him the Henry Latimer Award in 2008, for professionalism and community service, his son said.
In his spare time, Gomez coached mostly baseball and soccer and started the girls soccer program in town.
The teams won championships and he was proud that 23 of the girls earned college scholarships.
A competitive handball and softball player, Gomez was a certified scuba diver, skied on snow and water and would fly in hot air balloons and parasails.
He was a director of the Humane Society of Greater Miami. Neighborhood dogs knew he stocked his car with treats and would pull their owners to see him, his son said.
Bob Spano knew Gomez for 49 years and said, “It would be impossible for me to try to compress a lifetime of friendship with Roland into a few sentences. ...
“Roland’s drive for success, his personal accountability and humor is something most folks will always remember him for.
“For me specifically, it is his generosity and kindness that sets him apart from other people. He had a way of empowering others to be their best in a dignified and supportive way.
“Even though I take comfort in knowing that he left his indelible mark on so many people whose lives he touched, I’ll always miss my best friend,” Spano said.
Among his honors were inductions to the Miami Lakes Sports Hall of Fame and Miami High Sports Hall of Fame.
Survivors include his widow, son Richard Gomez and his life partner Jay Kushner, daughters Lisa DePriest and Nancy Contreras and her husband Lazaro Contreras and their children Daniel Contreras and Amanda Contreras.
A celebration of Gomez’s life will be held Jan. 14 at the clubhouse in Optimist Park, 6411 NW 162nd St., Miami Lakes at 5:30 p.m.