By Rick Pfeiffer
It’s been a sad week for Falls cops.
They lost one of their own and the city lost too.
I know its a cliche, but William “Bill” Gee was a gentle giant of a man and one of those really good guys you just can’t imagine won’t be around forever. But on Tuesday night, he lost his brave fight with stomach cancer.
I can’t imagine that anyone who knew Bill wasn’t devastated by the news. I know, I was.
I got to know Bill when he worked in the Warrants Division. Our paths had crossed before, but our regular contact working on the Niagara’s Most Wanted feature in the Gazette further developed our relationship.
He was the dictionary definition of a nice guy. A consummate cop, a perfect professional and someone who really cared about people.
Nothing drove that home to me more than when I found out about his illness. His fellow officers were putting together a fundraiser to help him deal with the mounting medical expenses he was facing and I spoke with him about the event.
I wanted to focus on his fight and how he was standing up to the disease. Bill was happy to speak about that for bit.
But Bill knew I had some medical issues in the past, ones that paled in comparison to his, and he deftly tried to turn the conversation away from himself.
“So, how you doin’?” he asked.
I was speechless. I told him I was just fine and I wanted to keep our conversation focused on him.
Bill just said, “Oh, I’ll be OK.”
I’m going to miss seeing him, tall and built like a pro football player. I’ll miss his friendly smile and that deep, slightly raspy voice asking me, “What’s up?”
His passing leaves a hole in the Falls Police Department’s collective heart. But his memory will always linger with his fellow cops and those of us lucky to really have gotten to know him.
To his family and friends, I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences. We, and this city, are poorer for his passing.
So next time you hit your knees to say something to the man upstairs, ask him to be on the lookout for Bill Gee.
Getting the “cred”
On a happier note, congratulations to the men and women working in the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Civil Division.
The New York State Sheriff’s Association has recently granted the division its full accreditation. The accreditation means the office has met 121 individual standards of excellence in the performance of its duties.
In its announcement of the accreditation, the association said, “(It) is a seal of approval that brings state-wide recognition to the efforts made by Sheriff (James) Voutour, and his staff, to make the Civil Division a truly professional operation which is responsive to the needs of the people of Niagara County.”
Contact reporter Rick Pfeiffer at 282-2311, ext. 2252.