Cambridge City’s 2023 Canal Days grand marshal has inspired Western Wayne youth for more than 40 years.

In 1975, Bill Tyler responded to a knock on the door from a Milton group asking him to coach. That led to coaching football, basketball, wrestling and softball for Lincoln, Hagerstown, Tri High and Earlham College. He is among Tri-Eastern Conference’s few coaches to take a team to a state championship, in 2017.

However, Tyler is best known for bringing fast-pitch softball to the area in 1996 with Alan Fox and Jim Brumfield. During his years of coaching girls in that sport, he sent 16 players on to college under scholarship, one of whom reached NCAA’s Division I at Ball State.

Tyler has said he believes young athletes gain a sense of purpose and important life skills through sports. He enjoys visiting with former players, many of whom tell him they wouldn’t be where they are today without him.

Although he’s a retired and disabled veteran, Tyler continues assisting with coaching when he can and attends many sporting events to support local athletes.

Beyond coaching, Tyler also served as Santa Claus for 40 years at private, public and corporate events, helping families make meaningful memories.  

Canal Days organizers say Tyler, named Milton’s 2017 Citizen of the Year, always has been of generous, selfless, and compassionate character.

When learning he was the 2023 grand marshal, Tyler immediately asked if his sister, Janet Sebring, could ride along with him, and expressed gratitude for the recognition.

“I believe we are the ones who are truly honored here,” said Jama Carpenter, Cambridge City Chamber of Commerce’s president. “What a wonderful presence and contribution Bill has made in our community through his involvement in our athletic programs and with his selflessness.”

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A version of this article appeared in the September 6 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.