BATTLE GROUND — The entire Battle Ground community woke to some heartbreaking news Saturday morning.
Bill Ganley — a well-known Battle Ground community member, long-time Battle Ground City Council member, Battle Ground Public Schools’ teacher, coach, mentor and friend to many — died the morning of Nov. 26 after an eight-year battle with cancer. He was 57.
Ganley was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer in 2009. This is a rare form of cancer that consists of numerous slow-growing tumors throughout the body. Since the diagnosis eight years ago, Ganley endured several major surgeries to remove some of the larger tumors from his body. Some of the most intense surgeries included ones to remove tumors from his brain, kidney and liver. In addition to those surgeries. He’s also had many minor surgeries and radiation treatments.
After teaching and coaching in the Battle Ground School District for 34 years, Ganley retired just prior to the end of the 2014-2015 school year as he was struggling to manage the pain he was experiencing as a result of the multiple tumors in his body. Although he had retired from teaching, Ganley remained passionate about his position on the Battle Ground City Council and regularly continued to attend meetings and work on city business until this past June.
Ganley was a member of the city council for more than 20 years, first elected to a council position in November of 1993. He also served as Battle Ground’s first mayor under the council-manager form of government from 1997-2001. Through his job as an educator, Ganley taught and coached more than 8,500 students at Battle Ground High School and Summit View High School.
Battle Ground Mayor Philip Johnson shared his thoughts on Ganley in the following statement: “Battle Ground lost a good friend Saturday. Bill Ganley was not a Battle Ground native, but like a good portion of our citizens, he embraced Battle Ground as his own, and we are a better community for having Bill as one of us.”
“Bill wore many hats, he first was a son, and a husband, he was a fireman at heart, he was a teacher who only wanted the best for his students, he was a city councilman and mayor who was concerned greatly about Battle Ground and its future. Mostly he was a good friend to me and a multitude of others.”
“Goodbye my friend, take your well-deserved rest, your work is done.”
“For the rest of us our work continues. It is my hope that we can accomplish that work by using Bill’s work ethic. Listen, consider, and act in the best interest of the people. I promise to do my best.”
This past June, Ganley moved into an Advanced Care Center memory care facility in Vancouver where he lived until the time of his death. He was never lonely, though, as Ganley himself said back in September that many people visited him every week, including fellow council members, the mayor, people from the community and past students. He also smiled as he said his wife, Brenda Alling, visited him every day.
After the news of Ganley’s death made its way around the community Saturday, Facebook posts paying tribute to the late council member, teacher and community member began popping up everywhere, some appearing on Ganley’s own Facebook page, others on people’s personal pages and others on community group Facebook pages.
Council Member Shane Bowman posted about Ganley, recalling that he first ran against him for city council about eight years ago. Bowman wrote that Ganley beat him “pretty bad” that year, but two years later Bowman was elected to the council and was made the deputy mayor.
“Bill was the one who reached out to help me in this new position,” Bowman wrote in his post. “For the last five years he mentored me and taught me so much about how politics work. We became great friends who spent many hours talking about the great city we live in, Battle Ground High School sports, the Seahawks, the Mariners and the Huskies … Today we lost this great man to cancer. He was a fighter to the end. Last week he and I talked about him running for office again next year. I will miss campaigning for him, putting out signs, midnight runs to fix signs … Bill Ganley you have been loved by many and I appreciate the time we had together.”
Alex Reinhold, a former Battle Ground City Council member and Battle Ground community member, recalled that he got to know Ganley when he was on the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce Board and was attending council meetings when Marvin Brothers was mayor and Ganley was on the council. Reinhold said Ganley introduced himself to him at the first meeting Reinhold attended and from then on would take time to explain what was going on.
“I had attended council meetings for four years before I decided to run for council,” Reinhold said. “When I ran and won, the second call I got after my parents was from Bill who congratulated me and welcomed me aboard. Bill and I got along really well because we were both truly non-partisan. We both simply wanted to do what was best for the most people. We debated a lot and changed each other’s minds many times. He never took any debate personally, and if you could explain to him why your idea helped people he could and would change his mind.”
“Bill never gave up,” Reinhold continued. “He spent almost six years convincing me that mandatory garbage pick up was a good idea. I spent three years convincing him we needed to name something after Everett Eaton. But neither of us took those debates personally. Anything I was volunteering for, if I needed help, he was the first to raise his hand and offer his help. I hope God has installed half-court basketball spots in Heaven because I’m sure Bill is up there debating for them now. I loved that man and without him there is a space in my heart, but my brain is full of wonderful memories and stories.”
Mike Dalesandro, another current Battle Ground City Council member, was among the many Battle Ground community members who posted a tribute to Ganley on Facebook today. Dalesandro wrote that from the first day he met Ganley some years ago and they began serving together on the council, he was in awe of his work ethic and the size of his heart.
“As a teacher, coach, mayor and city councilor; he gave so much with little fan fair,” Dalesandro wrote. “If you knew Bill, that’s just the way he wanted it to be, a true public servant. No matter how ill or tired he was, Bill was always thinking about us; how we can make our community a better place. I learned a lot from his example, his guidance and our lively political discussions. I will miss him dearly.”
John Idsinga, a former Battle Ground City Council member, former mayor and Battle Ground community member, also posted about the new of Ganley’s death today.
“It is a sad day for our community,” Idsinga wrote. “He (Ganley) was a well-respected teacher, coach, Planning Commission member, city council member and former mayor, and a great friend. He has made a huge contribution to our community in so many ways. It is a sad day for the city of Battle Ground and community. He will truly be missed.”
As the day came to an end Saturday, Ganley’s own personal Facebook page was also flooded with posts from former students that he taught or coached.
Andrew Bahnsen wrote: “Rest in peace Mr. Ganley. You were a great teacher, track coach and person. Battle Ground lost a legend.”
Torin Lee wrote: “RIP Mr. Ganley. You were truly an inspiration!”
Rachel Morris wrote: “RIP Mr. Ganley. I will always remember that laugh and ready smile you had in class. Thanks for being a great teacher. You were among the many history teachers that helped grow my interest in history. Prayers to you and your loved ones Mr. Bill Ganley.”
This past September, Ganley’s wife, Brenda, told ClarkCountyToday.com that his unwavering spirit was something that always stood out about him.
“”Bill has the most fighting spirit of anyone I have ever known,” Brenda said back in September. “I have seen him through some pretty dark days, and he has never wavered in his belief that he will get better.”
Ganley was appointed to the city of Battle Ground Planning Commission. He was elected to the Battle Ground City Council Position No. 6 in November 1993 and has been re-elected to five consecutive four-year terms. He served as Battle Ground’s first mayor under the council-manager form of government from 1997-2001, and played a huge role in shaping the new form of government elected by the vote of the people.
Last year, Battle Ground council members passed a resolution deeming the police and fire stations in the city as the William J. Ganley Public Safety Complex, recognizing Ganley for his extraordinary leadership in service to the Battle Ground community.
A Celebration of Life will be held Sun., Dec. 11, 2 p.m., at the Battle Ground Community Center, 912 E. Main St., Battle Ground.