Resting At Home, Former Normandy Park Mayor George Hadley Says “Thank You”
by Mark Neuman
The recent four months have been a swift transition for George and Nancy Hadley, from the relatively normal and routine to an acceptance of one of the very difficult inevitabilities of life itself.
We spoke this week with George and Nancy. George was mayor of Normandy Park, until he resigned in early March.
Since just past the first of the year, George Hadley has endured brain surgery and several weeks of concurrent radiation and chemotherapy to treat a form of brain cancer for which there is no cure. The cancer affects the glial cells.
“If you picture a pickup truck with the netting over it to hold things in, the glial cells are the netting that holds the different compartments of
the brain together,” Nancy explained. “So when the cancer is in the glial cells, the cancer is everywhere. They can’t get all of it no matter what they do.
“He actually flew through all that treatment pretty well,” she said. “His bad time came after he finished his chemo and radiation on the 24th of March.
“He hasn’t had any pain through all of this, even before he was operated on. That is the saving grace right there.”
George is receiving hospice care at their home on top of Snake Hill in Normandy Park.
“We have a hospital bed in the living room. It’s adjustable and he can look out the window at Puget Sound and the garden,” Nancy said. “The cancer is in a dominant region of the left side of the brain. It affects his reading, writing, speech and walking.
“Here’s a man that throughout his life had a brain like a computer. Now he’ll think one thing but it will come out as something else.”
George began to experience motor skills difficulties over the Christmas holidays while he and Nancy were visiting friends in Arizona.
“He wasn’t reading as much as he usually does,” Nancy recalled.
The problems did not get better.
Back in Normandy Park in early January he was running errands. He came home, walked in the door and said to his wife: “We need to talk about my health.”
George Hadley has always been, in a sense, a man of few words.
“For him to say ‘we need to talk,’ I dropped everything and we talked. He said ‘something’s wrong.’”
He was having vision problems, particularly in his right eye.
The next day Nancy took George to Highline Medical Center where he underwent a CAT scan, an MRI, X-rays and blood tests.
He underwent brain surgery the next morning, January 13.
“The doctors informed us it was Glioblastoma Multiforme,” Nancy said. “They told us that George might live two to three months with no treatment. But with the treatment he has received he has a fifty percent chance of living at least one full year.”
George Hadley and Nancy Louise McDonald were married July 12, 1980.
“We met over the KVI Love Line, would you believe that? His friends challenged him to go on the program.”
Personality wise, going on the radio show “was so much not him and it was so much not me, but it just happened.”
Lee Moyer has known George for 40 years.
“We both joined the Washington Kayak Club, we were both whitewater paddlers,” Lee said. “For one thing, George is not only a nice guy, he’s probably the smartest guy I ever met. He’s brilliant. He was building and using computers before most people knew what a computer was.”
Lee remembers playing a computer game George designed and built in the 1970’s.
“It was called ‘Landing a Rocket Before Running Out of Fuel.’ He worked at Boeing on a lot of (military) stuff he’s not allowed to talk about.”
George Hadley was born in 1943 in Morristown, New Jersey. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before going to work for Boeing.
He spent five years teaching computer science at the University of Stuttgart in West Germany in the 1970’s.
He was a standout chess player in his early years, and an avid soccer player throughout his life.
George Hadley began serving as a member of the Normandy Park City Council in 2004. He served as Mayor Pro Tem from January 2006 to December 2009.
In January 2010, the Normandy Park City Council elected Hadley to serve as Mayor for 2010-2011.
Prior to being elected to the City Council, George served on the Normandy Park Board of Adjustment.
Understandably, George does have some trouble finding just the right words while speaking and he tires easily. Nancy intuitively knows his meaning and helps him communicate.
“He is saying he is very appreciative of all the love and support he has received,” she said.
His many visitors have included the Normandy Park Police Chief, many police officers, Normandy Park City Council members, the City Manager, city workers and neighbors and friends.
Nancy said “I think one of the things George stands out as is someone who has always served the community and enjoys anything connected with helping people.”
Lee Moyer continued:
“George is a guy that tends to take whatever he’s doing very seriously. When an issue came before the city council, there’s one guy that has done his homework very thoroughly and it’s George.
“If he says something, he knows what he’s talking about. He studies. He is a very intense guy, but not uptight. He’s a relaxed and fun guy.
“When he does something, he does it with a full commitment. He does the very best he can.
“That’s always been the way George is.”