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Longtime Northeast Ohio public official Bill Denihan passes away

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish called Denihan the 'consumate administrator and public official.' He had a 42-year career in public service.

CLEVELAND — One of Northeast Ohio's longest-serving public officials has passed away.

Bill Denihan, who most recently worked as CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County (ADAMHS), died on Monday at the age of 85. The news was announced by Denihan's wife, Mary, on his Facebook page.  

"Bill was an amazing human being," Mary Denihan wrote of her late husband. "He loved making a meaningful difference in peoples’ lives." Bill Denihan suffered a heart attack on May 12 and had "insurmountable health issues" that ultimately resulted in his passing. 

Denihan spent 15 years with ADAMHS before retiring in 2017 after a 42-year career in public service. “I was honored to work closely with Mr. Denihan for more than 15 years. He was my mentor and friend,” said Scott S. Osiecki, current CEO of the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County. “We will miss him, and our thoughts are with his wife, Mary, and his family as they mourn his loss and celebrate his well-lived life of service.”

The resume of Denihan included the following other local and state positions:

  • First executive director of Ohio's State Employee Relations Board
  • Acting Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
  • Director of personnel for Ohio and Cuyahoga County
  • Deputy Administrator and State Claims Director for the Bureau of Workers' Compensation
  • Chair of the Nuclear Power Evacuation plan for Ohio
  • Public Service Director for the city of Cleveland
  • Executive Director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services
  • Director of Highway Safety for Ohio, in charge of Ohio State Highway Patrol and Bureau of Motor Vehicles
  • Cleveland Public Safety Director
  • Acting Cleveland Police Chief
  • In 2002, former Bishop Anthony Pilla asked Denihan to head the commission investigating the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland's handling of the child sex-abuse cases.
  • Denihan also chaired the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee, a component of the settlement agreement between the city of Cleveland and U.S. Department of Justice regarding concerns about CPD's use-of-force policies and practices.

"We are sad to learn of the death of our colleague and friend, Bill Denihan. He led the County's Division of Children & Family Services from 1999 through 2001, championing changes that strengthened our social work and supportive service practices," Cuyahoga County spokesperson Mary Louise Madigan told 3News in a statement.

Cleveland City Council held a moment of silence for Denihan during Monday's meeting. 

"Bill was the consumate administrator and public official. He demonstrated his respect for people and service each day. His versatility and leadership skills enabled him to work in nearly every level and area of government. His wisdom and advocacy will be missed," added Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.

"A good and faithful public servant, Bill Denihan devoted his life to improving the lives of all people in our Cleveland community. His legacy will live on through the countless lives he touched. Sending my condolences to his wife, Mary, and his family," Rep. Shontel Brown wrote on Twitter in tribute to Denihan.

You can read Monica Robins' story on Bill Denihan when he retired from ADAMHS in 2017 by clicking here. You can watch their conversation below.

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