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Bill Ransdell II, Elizabethtown native and UK football standout, dies at 80

Photo via @UKFootball

Photo via @UKFootball

Bill Ransdell II lived a full life, one that included leading Elizabethtown High School’s football team to an undefeated season in 1957, playing under head coach Blanton Collier at the University of Kentucky, and continuing to serve his home state for decades as a licensed clinical social worker. Ransdell II died Friday, June 5, 2020. He was 80 years old.

The Kentucky football team honored Ransdell on Twitter on Sunday, writing the team’s condolences go out to Ransdell’s family and friends. That includes his son, George “Little Bill” Ransdell III, who served as UK’s starting quarterback in the mid-1980s under head coach Jerry Claiborne.

Ransdell II, later known as “Big Bill,” was raised in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where he brought home several pieces of hardware for his high school alma mater. He led the Elizabethtown High School Panthers to the Burly Bowl Championship, was selected to the 1958 East-West All-Star game, and went on to letter in football, basketball and track. He landed at the University of Kentucky, where he competed in both football and track. In 1960, he was tabbed as one of the SEC’s leaders in total touchdowns (No. 3), total points (No. 3), rushing touchdowns (No. 5) and touchdowns from scrimmage (No. 5).

He graduated from the University of Kentucky and went on to receive his Masters in Social Work from the University of Louisville. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) he counseled those with mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence issues with CompCare working across the Commonwealth as well as in Elizabethtown and Frankort, Kentucky in private practice for more than 30 years.

Ransdell didn’t limit his service to his time spent at the office. He filled his free time and private life by helping others, as well.

During the 1960’s Civil Rights movement he marched in Louisville with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pushing for racial equality and social justice. Ransdell also served as a volunteer for the American Red Cross, and he responded to disasters on several occasions to contribute in both preparations and recovery operations. He traveled to New York following the September 11, 2001 attacks, where he spent several weeks as an American Red Cross Volunteer Counselor assisting first responders, affected recovery workers and families of those who were lost.

He was a member of Lexington’s Immanuel Baptist Church for over 30 years, and he is survived by his wife of 47 years, Jeanne Larsen Ransdell, as well as their three sons and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His obituary can be found here.

In honor of his legacy, George’s family is requesting memorial contributions be directed to Family Services through www.Greenhouse17.org.

Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

1 Comment for Bill Ransdell II, Elizabethtown native and UK football standout, dies at 80



  1. Cletis75
    12:51 pm June 14, 2020 Permalink

    Hell of a nice guy. Met him when his son was QB at UK. His wife was one of my teachers at Hardin Central where I went 2 school for about 3months, she was great 2. Not many women teachers could talk football for half the period in those days. If you read this Mrs Ransdell, God bless your whole family. Did you ever tell him your secret about pretending to nap after lunch on Sundays so he would clean the kitchen? Hahaha! I am sure he knew, he was pretty sharp!