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William Nathaniel "Bill" Avera, Jr
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Birth: Apr. 5, 1927
Saint Petersburg
Pinellas County
Florida, USA
Death: Jan. 17, 2009
Gilchrist County
Florida, USA

WILLIAM NATHANIEL AVERA passed away on January 17th. He was 81 years of age.

Bill was born on April 5, 1927 in St. Petersburg, FL to Mary Vaughn Avera and William Avera, Sr. He moved to Gainesville when he was 5 years old and was raised in a home located in the 200 block of East University Avenue; fittingly, where the Alachua County Judicial Center is located today.

As a teenager, Bill returned to St. Petersburg and attended St. Petersburg High; graduating in 1944. He immediately joined the Navy and served in the armed forces until 1946. Upon his discharge, Bill attended the University of Florida with the support of the GI Bill. He was a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. Upon graduation, he continued his studies at the University of Florida attaining a LLM in law in 1952. Bill practiced law his entire professional career in North Florida providing individuals with legal representation in a wide variety of cases. Bill's career took him to the Scruggs, Carmichael firm where he became a partner. He was the Alachua County Democratic Campaign Director during the 1960 Presidential Election and hosted then Vice-Presidential nominee Lyndon B. Johnson when he visited Gainesville on a campaign stop. In 1961 he was appointed by the Gainesville City Commission to the City Plan Board. In November 1962 he joined Gray, Chandler, O'Neal, Carlisle, & Avera. He served during the 1960's on the Gainesville/Alachua County Aviation Authority. In 1978, Bill started his own firm which became today's Avera & Smith, LLP. In 1965 he was elected President of the Academy of Florida Trial lawyers. He was inducted as a Fellow into the American College of Trial Lawyers. In 1982 he was inducted as a Fellow in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He was admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern and Middle Districts of Florida. In 1955 he was admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and to the Eleventh Circuit in 1981. In 1968 he was admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Bill was an avid outdoorsman who loved hunting, fishing, and his favorite place in the world; Suwannee, FL and its enchanting river.

Bill was preceded in death by his sister, Joyce Avera Biewend. He is survived by Margaret Waller; his children, Lance, Garland, and Mark; his beloved grandchildren, Grant, Nicole, Alexandria, Danielle, Ashton, Ella, and Ava; his nephew Rick Biewend and his nieces, Janis Biewend, Jenna Biewend, Michelle Biewend Freeman and Holly Knight.

A Celebration of Bill's life will be held this Saturday, January 24th, 2009 at the Best Western Gateway Grand Hotel, 4200 N.W. 97th Blvd. Gainesville from 6:30PM to 8:30PM. To attend, please R.S.V.P. to or phone (352) 372-9999. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Cancer Society. Arrangements are under the care of WILLIAMS-THOMAS WESTAREA FUNERAL HOME 823 NW 143rd STREET.



By Karen Voyles
Gainesville Sun - Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Prominent Gainesville attorney William N. "Bill" Avera died Saturday afternoon in a Gilchrist County wreck that injured three others.

Avera, 81, was the founder and senior partner of the law firm Avera and Smith, LLP.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Avera was pronounced dead at the scene of the 2:25 p.m. crash south of Bell. Those injured were residents of Bell.

FHP Cpl. Rodney W. Howard determined that Avera was alone in his 2004 Toyota Tundra when he ran a stop sign while headed west on County Road 232. Family members said Avera was on his way to his vacation home in Suwannee when the pickup was hit broadside. Avera reportedly pulled into the path of a 1997 Chevrolet Lumina being driven north on CR 341 by Jenna M. Luchak, 21.

She was taken to Shands at the University of Florida in critical condition.

Luchak's passengers, Rose M. Guindni-Mayo, 47, and Stanley M. Mayo, 65, were taken to Shands at UF in serious condition.

In his report, Howard said the Toyota rolled over while the Chevrolet spun off the two-lane, paved road. Howard also noted that charges were pending further investigation in the wreck and that everyone involved was wearing a seatbelt.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Williams-Thomas Funeral Homes, according to Avera's oldest child and law partner, Mark Avera.

The Avera law firm also included the youngest of his three children, Lance, while his middle child and only daughter, Garland Avera, entered the pharmaceutical industry.

"I had the luxury of trying about 20 jury trials with my dad over the years - for a civil lawyer that's quite a few," Mark Avera said. "He was not one to admonish. Instead, he would listen and then say, 'Let me tell you what I think.' Typically, his advice would strike us as being that which we needed to do. It's rare that we ever proved him wrong."

Mark Avera recalled his father as someone who "knew stuff you couldn't find in law books. It had to do with the nature of people and how people would react."

Around 2000, Bill Avera began wrapping up his cases while forbidding his sons to use the R word, as in "retire."

"Since then he has made it a point to come by the office two or three times a week to make sure my brother and I were not screwing up what he had created," Mark Avera said.

Although Bill Avera was no longer practicing law full time, partner Rod Smith said he frequently spent time in the office providing partners and associates advice on everything ranging from the cases they were working on to the redfish conditions in the Gulf of Mexico near his favorite place, a home he built in Suwannee more than 25 years ago.

"He was a great lawyer, the type of which we will never see again," Smith said on Monday morning. "He was also a fabulous father and grandfather who was convinced that his (seven) grandchildren were profoundly gifted."

The law firm that Avera founded handles a wide range of civil and criminal cases, and no matter what type of case Avera was working on, Smith said he handled it like he "did everything in his life - with a sophistication and style that made him very special to his family and friends."

Family links: 
  William Nathaniel Avera (1897 - 1949)
  Mary Vaughn Avera (1900 - 1991)
Evergreen Cemetery
Alachua County
Florida, USA
Maintained by: Mark Scott
Originally Created by: Vera Mikell Sodek
Record added: Jan 20, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 33071448
William Nathaniel Bill Avera, Jr
Added by: Vera Mikell Sodek
William Nathaniel Bill Avera, Jr
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Paula McCarter
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- Lance
 Added: Feb. 24, 2013

- Vera Mikell Sodek
 Added: Jan. 20, 2009

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