Bill Denihan, ‘accomplished administrator and civil servant’, dies at 85

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Bill Denihan, longtime Cuyahoga County official and mental health and addictions advocate, died Monday at age 85.

His wife, Mary, confirmed the news in a post on his Facebook page, saying he was suffering from “insurmountable health problems” following a heart attack on May 12.

“Bill was an incredible human being. He loved making a meaningful difference in people’s lives,” she wrote, calling on his friends and those who knew him to share their own memories and stories of “all the good he did for our community.”

Denihan was last CEO of the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services Council, which he helped create in 2009 and led for 15 years before retiring in 2017 at the age of 80. years.

At left, Bill Denihan gives instructions to Anthony Jenkins Saturday, March 8, 2008 during an art class at Joseph’s Home. The class is designed to help men with their self-esteem. (Lonnie Timmons III / Ordinary Merchant)The ordinary merchant

But his career in public service goes back much further.

He served as executive director of the county’s Division of Child and Family Services from 1999 to 2001, “advocating for changes that have strengthened our social work and support services practices,” the county said in a statement. press release Monday evening, acknowledging his death.

He also held many other titles, including:

  • First Executive Director of the State Employee Relations Board of Ohio
  • Acting Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
  • Personnel Director, for both Ohio and Cuyahoga County
  • Deputy Administrator and Director of State Claims for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
  • Chairman of the Nuclear Power Evacuation Plan for Ohio
  • City of Cleveland Public Service Director
  • Highway Safety Director for Ohio, in charge of the Highway Patrol and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles
  • Cleveland Public Safety Director
  • Acting Cleveland Police Chief
  • President of the Mental Health Intervention Advisory Committee
  • CEO of former Cuyahoga County Community Mental Health Board

County Executive Armond Budish called him “the consummate administrator and public servant,” in an emailed statement.

“He showed his respect for people and service every day,” Budish said. “His versatility and leadership skills have enabled him to work at almost all levels and areas of government. His wisdom and advocacy will be missed.

The Cleveland City Council also held a moment of silence for Denihan during Monday’s meeting.

Denihan had 11 children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren who “were the light of his life” and “the best legacy a person could have,” his wife wrote.

“There was only one Bill Denihan, and I’m privileged that he loves me as much as I love him,” she said.

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