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Savannah, like many cities, has some self-effacing jokes about itself.

“How many Savannahians does it take to change a light bulb? Four.

One to put in a new bulb, and three to form a committee for preserving and honoring the old bulb.”

Savannah is full of contradictions, the biggest one possibly being that it is all about holding on to the past, yet it has been in a constant state of change since General Oglethorpe founded the colony in 1733. 

View Bill Durrence's Presentation on the many changes he has witnessed in Savannah.


Bill Durrence - Barbara Gatens.JPG

A lifelong Savannah resident, Bill Durrence was born in the Second District. He and his wife, Barbara Gatens, have lived in the Washington Ward for more than 25 years.

As Savannah's Second District Alderman from 2015-2019, Bill Durrence brought a refreshing change for the District. Durrence was actively engaged in the arcane, often invisible, foundational aspects of local governance; such as digging deeply into the regulatory processes to better understand zoning, development patterns and issues, tourism related impacts, and transportation modalities, especially as they apply to the interests of Savannah’s 2nd District citizens. 

He was selected to serve on the Chatham Area Transit (CAT) Board, and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO-responsible for setting priorities for all transportation projects in the region). To assist in keeping Savannah’s name in the forefront in Atlanta and to continue his own learning, Durrence was appointed to represent the Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) Region 12, and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia on the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute Board, which develops the various training seminars offered to city officials and management.  He has also completed 75 hours of that Continuing Education training, earning GMA’s Certificate of Achievement.

Prior to taking office, Durrence was continuously involved in residential quality of life issues and served on many Second District commissions and committees such as the Downtown Neighborhood Association Board, and City of Savannah's Tourism Advisory Committee as well as being a member of the Historic Savannah Foundation and the Telfair Museum.

In 1967, Durrence enlisted and served 3 years in the U. S. Army. Before that he began his professional career working as a staff photographer at the Savannah Morning News, returning to the newspaper after his military commitment. During his second stint at the newspaper he found time to finish his formal education, enrolling at The University of Georgia, graduating, Cum Laude, with an ABJ degree in Journalism.

Durrence worked in the technical and professional division of Nikon Inc. training the professional photography market, managing equipment depots at major events from the Olympics to national political conventions, and as part of the team selected to create the Nikon School of Photography. In his freelance business, he provided photography, consulting, and teaching/mentoring services, including leading domestic and international photography trips and workshops. For more than 25 years he has been speaking publicly to large and small audiences.

One of Durrence’s biggest strengths throughout his career traveling the world with Nikon is his understanding on how to find common ground with people from all walks of life, socio-economic class, age, gender, heritage, and ethnicity to successfully accomplish his assignments. This talent translates directly into his interactions with and understanding of the diverse 2nd District population.  He retired (mostly) in early 2015 to pursue a more active role in the Savannah community, but still provides occasional photography consulting, and travels and photographs at every opportunity, but now only with Barbara instead of a group of students. 

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