Battle Ground City Councilor and longtime high school teacher Bill Ganley died over the weekend after a yearslong battle with cancer. He was 57.
Those who knew him well described Ganley as a dedicated public servant and inspiring teacher who was willing to mentor others and who had done much to shape the city.
Ganley taught and coached track at Battle Ground High School for 28 years, then took a job in 2010 teaching social studies at Summit View High School. His service in city government began in 1991, when he joined the Battle Ground Planning Commission.
In 1993, he was elected to the Battle Ground City Council, winning re-election after each of his four-year terms. His current term was set to expire at the end of next year. Ganley also served as the city’s mayor from 1997 to 2001, and he spent time representing the city on the C-Tran Board of Directors and the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council.
News of Ganley’s death spread over the weekend on social media, with many local leaders and former students expressing their sadness over the loss.
One shared a story about Ganley’s generosity. Battle Ground City Councilor Shane Bowman recalled in a post on Facebook how he tried to unseat Ganley nearly eight years ago and lost.
“At the time I never really knew this great man (and) the impact and influence he had on our great city,” Bowman wrote Saturday. “He beat me pretty bad that year.”
But just two years later, after Bowman won election to a different City Council seat and was named deputy mayor, Ganley reached out to help Bowman.
“For the last five years he mentored me and taught me so much about how politics work,” Bowman wrote. “We became great friends who spent many hours talking about the great city we live in, Battle Ground High School sports, the Seahawks, Mariners and Huskies.”
Former Camas Mayor Nan Henriksen remembered Ganley as “a wonderful man who gave so much to his community;” Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey described him as “a great servant to his community;” and state Rep. Jim Moeller called him “a great man and mentor.”
Fellow councilor Bowman also said he admired Ganley’s tenacity when it came to fighting cancer.
Ganley was diagnosed in 2009, when doctors discovered a large tumor in his abdomen. It was a rare form of cancer, and the tumor had metastasized, spreading to other areas of his body. The diagnosis came days after he became engaged to his future wife, Brenda Alling.
Ganley underwent surgeries and various treatments and stuck with a fitness regimen as much as he could — going regularly to the gym and running up to 5 miles at a time, according to a 2011 story from The Columbian’s archives.
“I’m positive. It’s something you just live with,” he told The Columbian at the time, adding that he wanted to continue in his role in city government. “I enjoy working on City Council and trying to make Battle Ground a better place to live.”
Throughout his battle, he continued to serve and receive recognition for his work.
In 2014, Ganley was given a fire hydrant on wheels to celebrate the nearly 1,500 fire hydrants he helped repaint over the previous 12 years while volunteering for the city’s Fire Hydrant Maintenance Program. Last fall, the city renamed its headquarters for police and firefighters the William J. Ganley Public Safety Complex in his honor.
“We lost this great man to cancer. He was a fighter to the end,” Bowman wrote. “Last week he and I talked about him running for office again next year.”
As of Sunday, details about a memorial service for Ganley had yet to be announced.