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).
Bill Ransdell led E'Town to an undefeated season in '57 including a Burley Bowl win over Shelbyville. They were dominating. Ransdell, later a star at UK, has died. pic.twitter.com/U07umYDX0F
— Kentucky High School Sports History (@KYHSHistory) June 9, 2020
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.
A halfback at UK, Bill Ransdell II’s 88-yard run vs. Xavier is tied for the 2nd-longest in UK history. He became a licensed clinical social worker, committing his life in service to others, and is the father of UK QB Bill Ransdell III. Our condolences to the family and friends. pic.twitter.com/LaH70v6noY
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) June 14, 2020
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.