McAuley Alumnae Blog

McAuley High School, Toledo, Ohio

Father of Leslie Gonzalez ’86 passed away:

Posted by mcauleyhighschool on June 30, 2018

(News story) Victor J. Gonzalez, Jr., who protected six U.S. presidents as a Secret Service agent and led the agency in a $2 million counterfeit money sting, died June 16. He was 81.

Mr. Gonzalez was on a road trip to pick up a dog when his heart failed at a hotel in Joplin City, Mo., his son, Mitchell Gonzalez, said.

Born to Victor Gonzalez, Sr., and Juana Gonzalez Cruz on June 21, 1936, Mr. Gonzalez grew up in Humacao, Puerto Rico, before his family moved to New York City, Mitchell Gonzalez said.

He graduated from Stuyvesant High School, a high-achieving public school in New York, and Bloomfield College. After serving in the Army, he later earned a law degree from Inter-American University in San Juan.

While working for the Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Gonzalez was recruited to the Secret Service as the first Puerto Rican native to serve as a regular agent. In his first year, he accompanied President John F. Kennedy on a trip to Costa Rica, marking the first trip by a sitting president to Latin America.

With fluency in Spanish, Mr. Gonzalez rose in the ranks to lead the agency’s San Juan office. After his son expressed interest in attending Ohio State University, Mr. Gonzalez moved to Toledo to make his son’s dream possible. He later transferred to the University of Toledo.

Often a host to diplomats and U.S. politicians, Mr. Gonzalez traveled across the world with sitting presidents, including a tour of seven European countries with President Richard Nixon and a fact-finding trip in Latin America with former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller.

But much of the work of local Secret Service offices involves forged government documents, counterfeit money, and background checks on federal employees.

In 1982, he led the department in a bust that recovered $2 million in falsified bills, leading to the arrest of several people operating a counterfeit ring. A photo that appeared in The Blade showed Mr. Gonzalez holding stacks of $20s beside suitcases brimming with bills.

“He liked being in charge,” his son said. “Some things he couldn’t talk about. Some things he could.”

After leaving the agency, he served as a county prosecutor and went into private practice.

But outside of his work protecting diplomats and cracking down on criminals, Mr. Gonzalez could often be found dancing throughout the house with his late wife to Spanish salsa music, a tribute to their shared Puerto Rican heritage.

Mr. Gonzalez is survived by his second wife, Kathy Hynes Gonzalez; daughter, Leslie J. Knight; son, Mitchell Gonzalez, and three grandchildren.

His service will take place at 11 a.m. Aug. 4 at the Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, Va.

This is a news story by Hailey Fuchs. Contact her at hfuchs@theblade.com, 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @Hailey_Fuchs.

Published in Toledo Blade on June 29, 2018

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