Bill Giannini, a former chairman of both the Shelby County Republican Party and the county Election Commission, was killed in an automobile crash in Decatur County Thursday afternoon, apparently on his way from Nashville to Memphis.
Giannini, who until recently had been deputy commissioner of Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, was the proprietor of the Resolve Consulting Firm and owner of a Memphis pizza restaurant.
As both GOP chairman and Election Commission chair in Shelby County, Giannini presided over periods of change and controversy.
He had made in clear in numerous recent conversations that he was thinking seriously of running next year for the state Senate seat which federal Judge-designate Mark Norris now occupies. Several friends of Giannini commented on their Facebook pages that he had made plans for seeing them in Memphis this weekend.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol said Giannini was killed on Interstate 40 when his car swerved across the median and struck another vehicle headed the other way. The other motorist was injured but survived.
Giannini’s death recalled another highway tragedy he was involved in almost five years ago exactly, during the Christmas season of 2012, when, as he passed over a rise in I-40 in Shelby County at the Fayette County line, the car he was driving collided with another vehicle that had stopped abruptly because of a chain-reaction accident in front of it.
The car struck by Giannini then struck another stopped vehicle, resulting in a fatality. After a review by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, no one was charged in the accident.
Besides his businesses and his political and governmental work, Giannini was a talented guitarist and had often performed to local audiences, on one memorable occasion in Memphis doing an extended version of the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Free Bird” in tandem with another musically dexterous political figure, former Arkansas governor and onetime presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
More news will be reported as it becomes available.