September 30, 2014

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Longtime North Ridgeville teacher, coach remembered

Bill Harnish

Bill Harnish

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — William Harnish was remembered this week as a guy who gave of himself and his talents in the classroom as well as on countless ballfields.

Harnish, a longtime teacher and city recreation activist, died Monday at age 69 of an apparent heart attack.

Harnish was described by Maria Sycz as a quiet man “who knew so many people. He touched so many lives in one way or another, from school to sports to friendships.

“He will definitely be missed in this community in a lot of ways,” said Sycz, who served alongside Harnish on the North Ridgeville Board of Education from 2006 to 2008.

Both Sycz and City Councilman Dennis Boose were surprised to hear of Harnish’s death.

“I knew he was sick for a while, but we had just seen him out to dinner recently with family and he seemed to be doing well,” Sycz said.

Both also recalled what they described as Harnish’s perennially upbeat personality.

“He always had that smile on his face and always had sayings,” Sycz said.

One in particular she remembered was: “Every day is a holiday, and every meal is a feast.”

“That sticks in my head,” Sycz said.

“Whenever I ran into him, he always had that smile and a story to tell you,” Boose said. “He always made time for you.”

A business teacher in the city schools for 35 years, Harnish was elected to the school board in November 2005. Harnish stepped down in 2008 due to health concerns arising from a condition known as pulmonary interstitial fibrosis, which was significantly affecting his lung capacity.

“Basically, my lungs are dying long before the rest of my body,” Harnish said in a November 2008 Chronicle-Telegram story.

Harnish received a new lung in 2009, according to Sycz and Boose.

Ironically, his youngest daughter, Nicole, who now is at North Ridgeville High School, received a kidney from her mother and Harnish’s wife, Sue, when she was 1 year old.

Former North Ridgeville Parks and Recreation Department Director Sandy Gast recalled knowing Harnish when she worked as supervisor at the South Central Park swim lake.

Gast, who served as parks director after Harnish from 1985 to 1990, recalled him as dedicated.

“Parks and Rec was his fulltime job in the summer and a part-time job in the winter (when he was teaching school),” Gast said.

As a father of six children, Harnish spent many years immersed in their assorted sports in and out of school.

“He was really involved in all of their activities,” Gast said. “He was an energetic, good guy, and a very supportive boss.”

Once the post of parks and rec director was turned into a full-time position, Harnish had to step aside due to his job as a teacher.

Gast and Boose took particular note of the work Harnish put in to help develop South Central Park and the Shady Drive baseball complex.

“He was instrumental in (developing) the Shady Drive complex,” Boose said.

Ron Nenadal of the North Ridgeville Baseball Boosters agreed.

“He cared a lot about the kids in the (city baseball) program as demonstrated by the way he worked on establishing the Shady Drive complex,” Nenadal said.

Nenadal also told a humorous story of the time Harnish announced the Rangers’ football game against Vermilion in which a North Ridgeville ball carrier was stopped by “a ship load of Sailors.”

“The fans didn’t understand the wording over the loudspeakers and mistook the shipload of Sailors for something else,” Nenadal said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.


  • Take it down a peg

    Of course, I guess we’re forgetting the:
    - hazing the poor kids
    - special privileges for the jocks
    - special privileges for the jocks girlfriends
    - hiding child abuse when reported by the children of fellow school employee’s
    - the “special attention” given to various “adventurous” girls

    Bill Harnish was a typical North Ridgeville employee. Not a teacher.

    • 2111

      So you were one of the poor, dorky, busy body kids that the adventurous girls paid no attention to. What a cowardly sad existence you must lead to wait for someone to no longer be here before you speak out against perceived injustices.

      • Take it down a peg

        You, and no doubt your children (if you have any), are a perfect example of what happens when you bully kids too much

        Columbine happens (and Bill Harnish raped children)

        • 2111

          Not sure how my family or I could be associated with crazy people that shoot up schools based of my post but I guess only another madman could make that leap of association.
          You must really lead a horrible cowardly life to allow someone to harm children and do nothing about it. I’m guessing that none of the things you allege took place and you are just a babbling madman hiding behind a keyboard acting out like a big baby.
          The guy was a teacher and if he had been investigated on such charges it would have been front page news let alone if he had been charged and convicted of such crimes. I seem to have missed this circus. All of this was missed because some coward didn’t come fourth with information that they knew when he was alive to defend himself. Pretty embarrassing to wait until this time to spout off your mouth.

          • Take it down a peg

            Okay, I’ll try and use small words.

            First you accuse me of being one of “those busy body kids” and then of being an adult that stands by while kids are abused. You’re kind of all over the map, aren’t you?

            North Ridgeville students can share anything what they see and experience but the teachers union has a tendency to “circle the wagons” and protect their own. It was this way in my time, and while it may be a bit more free now (thanks to the internet) but it’s largely the same game-plan. If you have kids in ANY school system, you would know that many things happen in which they school would fight “tooth and nail” to keep any investigation from happening.

            High School teachers having sex with high school students is NOT new, it’s been a failing that happens (unfortunately) with both male and female teachers (with male and female students). It’s a fact (a sick fact, but a fact), and, outside of online schooling, it will keep happening.

            This “association” that you call “sick” (between your post and “crazy people that shoot up schools”) is an attempt to help anyone understand that blindly defending the abusers (quite often by attacking the accusers) has to stop because, much too often, the end-result is violence.

            I remember an assistant-principal at Columbine High School (Colorado) giving a television interview, soon after the shooting in 1999, in which she stated “…everyone gets picked on, these kids just need to ‘deal with it’…”. While this may be essentially true, actually stating it like this tends to show that American schools are run by feckless idiots that can barely tie their own shoes, let alone realize that these two kids DID go to the school for help and, with no help from them, DID eventually deal with their problem (by shooting up the student body).

            Plenty of people knew about Bill Harnish, but the cowards are his fellow school employee’s that slyly told him “Hey Bill, watch what your doing and don’t’ get caught”