Banker and Photographer Bill Galardi dies at 73
Bill Galardi was a knuckleballer. Because their pitch is so hard to tame, knuckleballers have to be patient and stubborn. One time, while pitching for Christian Brothers College, Bill threw a pitch that knuckled so wide it was going behind the batter. The batter stood complacently with his bat on his shoulder. Then, “bonk.” The ball hit the bat behind his head and trickled out into the field. Bill picked it up and threw him out at first.
Bill surprised people as much with his generosity as with his pitches. Many times, a group of young people would stand up at a restaurant in Gainesville to pay, only to find that their bill had already been paid by a mysterious benefactor. Bill also liked to pay the dinner check for his whole party surreptitiously before anyone else at the table thought to do it. Only one time did he lose this game, to an ostensibly trustworthy Rotary exchange student from Mexico who excused himself in the middle of the meal “to wash his hands.”
In Gainesville and beyond, Bill was famous for his photography. He took photos of his children, high school sports, community theater, and church events. His specialty was waiting to capture the unexpected candid that revealed what his hero, Henri Cartier Bresson, called “the decisive moment.” Bill gave away thousands of large, glossy photographs to students, their parents, church members, and many others over the years, never dreaming of asking for payment. His photographs were featured in exhibitions at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center and in his book, The Passion of Peru.
William Michael Galardi was born on August 22, 1946, in New York City. He grew up in Atlanta, the son of William Leonard Galardi and Mary Elizabeth Brannon. Bill graduated from Marist School in Atlanta in 1965, the star of the baseball team. At Christian Brothers College in Memphis, Bill threw out the first pitch ever for the school. By his senior year, again the star, Bill pitched the team into the playoffs. He was due to start the first playoff game, but his father demanded that he instead attend his graduation ceremony. After graduating in 1969, Bill served in the Navy and was honorably discharged in 1970. He married Karen Mitchell in 1977, and they had two children together during their fourteen years of marriage.
Over the course of a long and successful career as president of several community banks, Bill used his work to give back. After ascending to the position of president of Trust Company of Columbus, he later specialized in nursing distressed small banks back to health.
Following roles as president of Citizens National Bank of St. Albans, in West Virginia, and Summit National Bank, in Atlanta, he moved to Gainesville in 1992 to take the helm of Citizens Bank, a local institution since 1913. He broke new ground in 1993 by hiring one of the early graduates of the Shepherd Spinal Clinic’s apprenticeship program for disabled adults.
In 1994, Bill became president of Community Bank and Trust in Gainesville. In that role, he was proud to open the first bank branch that primarily served Gainesville's Hispanic community, and to hire one of the area’s first Spanish-speaking loan officers. During his years in Gainesville, Bill was involved in financing many small businesses and community mainstays, from Johnny’s BBQ to the Foot and Ankle Clinic of Oakwood.
Bill’s contributions to the community extended beyond his profession. His abiding faith led him to many years of commitment to Grace Episcopal Church. He was a member of the Gainesville Rotary Club and served on the board of directors of the United Way of Hall County, the Gainesville Community Foundation, Gateway House, and the Quinlan Visual Arts Center. He received numerous community awards, including many from Gainesville High School for his photography, as well as the W.G. Mealor Award from the Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce.
1992 was an important year in Bill’s life. In addition to moving to Gainesville, where he settled permanently, he met his wife of 26 years, Kathy Gosselin. For the entirety of their extraordinarily happy marriage, he was her greatest supporter at every step as she gained greater success and responsibility in her career as a judge—often documenting the moments with his camera. When not banking, taking photographs, or spending time with his family, Bill was an avid runner, completing nine marathons.
Bill was known to his friends and family as a storyteller and punster. In a battle of wits, he was never known to run out of puns first. He could do a mean impression of Elvis. And he maintained, even as he patiently and stubbornly persevered in the face of a long illness, the gentleness and generosity that made him universally beloved.
Bill is survived by his wife, Kathy Gosselin of Gainesville; his son Michael Galardi and his wife Eva; his daughter Katherine Galardi of Atlanta; his stepson Kenneth Fockele and his wife Callan of Seattle, WA; his stepdaughter Alice Fockele and her partner Winnie Chao of Portland, OR; and his sister Sue Codington of Decatur.
A memorial service will be held at Grace Episcopal Church, 422 Brenau Ave. NE, Gainesville, GA 30501, on Tuesday, February 11 at 2:00 PM. The family will receive friends in the parish hall following the service. If you have any of Bill’s photos, framed or unframed, you are invited to bring them to the parish office on Monday to be displayed at the reception. For those who wish, donations may be made to Gateway Domestic Violence Center, P.O. Box 2962, Gainesville, GA 30503.
Those wishing to send online condolences to the family may do so at littledavenport.com
Little & Davenport Funeral Home and Crematory, 355 Dawsonville Highway, SW, Gainesville, Ga. 30501 is in charge of arrangements.
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