By Richard Weizel STAFF WRITER FAIRFIELD \u2014 Longtime Realtor Ralph A. Bowley, 66, a Republican member of Fairfield\u2019s Board of Selectmen, died Saturday after a nine-month battle with cancer, the second time a selectman on the three-member panel has succumbed to the illness in less than two years. Democrat Denise Dougiello, 53, died in July 2008 of breast cancer, having served on the Board of Selectmen from 2001 until her resignation just days before hear death. Bowley, who was elected to the Board of Selectmen in 2007, was considered a fiscal conservative with a passion for Fairfield, and had been a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals for about a decade, those who know him said Saturday night. He was also involved in numerous town and civic affairs for many years. Both Republicans and Democrats praised Bowley as someone who cared deeply for the community, and was working on vital Fairfield issues until just over a week ago. \u201cIt\u2019s a very sad today for us \u2014 again,\u201d said Democratic First Selectman Kenneth Flatto. \u201cWe had our annual budget vote about 10 days ago, and despite being very, very ill, Ralph voted by phone and participated and spoke out about the budget during that session. I think that symbolized his dedication and passion for the town. He was a very dynamic guy.\u201d Flatto said he is in shock and \u201cdeeply saddened\u201d to lose a second member of the board in less than two years. \u201cIt\u2019s really unbelievable that on a three-member board, we are going through this for the second time just a year and a half after losing Denise (Dougiello),\u201d Flatto said. \u201cOur deepest sympathy goes out to Ralph\u2019s wife (Deborah) and the rest of his family.\u201d Flatto said that while serving on the Board of Selectmen for 15 years, 11 as first selectman, the current panel that also includes Democratic Selectman Sherri Steeneck \u201chas been very special to me. We have worked well together, and have shown civility can be part of town government despite party differences.\u201d Steeneck said last August, when Bowley was diagnosed, that she has known him since she served on the Zoning Board of Appeals with him more than 20 years ago, calling him \u201cone tough guy\u201d who would fight to beat the illness. Republican Town Committee Chairman Jim Baldwin said Bowley did fight hard to beat it, and that his death is a crushing blow to the town and his party. \u201cWe lost a great man today, a gentleman who was mild-mannered and caring,\u201d Baldwin said. \u201cHe was a champion of common sense and good government. We will miss him, and Fairfield will miss him. Our deepest and sincere condolences go out to his family ... and heartfelt thanks to Ralph for all he has done for us. \u201cHe\u2019s been kind of Mr. Fairfield, a real estate appraiser who knew so many people the way the town operated,\u201d Baldwin said. \u201cBoth he and Denise were terrific, dedicated Fairfielders who served their town and they left us much too soon.\u201d Town Clerk Betsy Browne, a Republican, said Bowley\u2019s death \u201cis a great loss for the town of Fairfield. Ralph had a particularly deep and great knowledge of the town, and worked so well with the two other selectmen \u201cI\u2019m going to miss a very dear friend, a very classy guy,\u201d Browne said. Browne said the two selectmen have 30 days to select a successor, and he or she must be a member of the same political party as Bowley. If they cannot reach a decision, a special election would be held in November. Flatto said flags in town will fly at half-staff for several days. While no final arrangements were yet available Saturday night, Browne said the Spear-Miller Funeral Home in Fairfield is handling the arrangements. A wake and funeral will be held later in the week, she said. Bowley is also survived by two adult daughters, Shannon, who served on the RTM a few years ago, and Jill, Browne said.