Bill Shissler dies at 66; beloved thrower, coach touring after Perth

Bill's slogan and legacy posted on Facebook.

Bill’s slogan and legacy was posted on Facebook.

Bill Shissler took 14th out of 15 in the M65 shot at Perth, and that’s the least important thing you need to know about him. But it shows he was still in the game to the end. Less than two weeks later, on Nov. 9, Bill died while sightseeing at Ayers Rock. “I was informed at 5 a.m.,” said his sister, Holly Crawford‎, on Bill’s Facebook page (with 1,400 friends). “Bill loved sports as much as I’m involved in art. He was into computers and worked on them and with them. If you use FileMaker he was part of it. He also trained people who went to the Olympics. He was a field coach at [Cal] Berkeley. … Bill, who could talk like Donald Duck, did it his way. We moved a lot when he was very young. When we moved back to the Bay Area when he was in elementary school, he never wanted to leave and he wanted and seems to know everyone and touched many people. He had health insurance. He knew he had heart issues — it ran on our mother’s side. He had high blood pressure…. I will miss him.”

Bill last threw Oct. 29 at the World Masters Athletics Championships.

Bill last threw Oct. 29 at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Perth.

Judging by the Facebook and other messages I’ve seen, many will miss Bill.

Keith Conning posted Bill’s bio:

Bill Shissler is a former track and field coach at Homestead High School (Cupertino, CA), DeAnza College 1981-1982, Intern with Stanford’s T&F program and Women’s Throwing coach at UC Berkeley (1983-1986).

During his coaching years, Mr. Shissler worked informally with a group of over 60 athletes of varying backgrounds, at no charge to them. With Mr. Shissler’s help, four of the group competed in the 1984 Olympics.

Mr. Shissler also has a background in computers as a software engineer with Ford Aerospace and Claris/FileMaker (Apple), having worked in that field for many years in the Silicon Valley. In addition, photography has been a long time passion leading into videography the last few years.

Bill also was managing director of Weight City, which boasted masters stars including Rob Suelflohn, Ron McKee, Nick White and John Garvey. He archived classic throw videos on YouTube.

Bill’s Bay Area friend Alan Kolling posted on Nov. 13:

Many people have written asking about the funeral arrangements for Bill. We want everyone to know that there will be a memorial service for Bill somewhere in the Bay Area, date TBD, as part of which Bill’s ashes may be sprinkled in the bay. We will keep everyone posted here on his timeline.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and condolences. I know that Bill’s family take some consolation at this very difficult time from the warmth and love we all felt towards him for the countless ways he touched our lives over the years.

John Dagata wrote:

Bill was a big part of the culture everyone at Cal Throws created being the Volunteer Throws Coach! He worked tirelessly to make our program and experience to every athlete memorable. Bill was with me every step of the way during my time at UC Berkeley and this is why I decided to post the picture below at the 2012 US Olympic Trials with Bill and my family, as Amy Haapanen had a career performance which Bill had so much to do with!

I will always cherish pulling up to Richmond Field Station with the Cal Throwers for practice at 7:00am and there Bill was, early, devoted, and committed to our mission, but never said a word.

Sister Holly concluded her post:

The Australians have now waived autopsy. They are just making sure nothing happened. He was in his bed with a locked door. It seems his last meal was kangaroo. He was having a great time and wanted to compete again. We’ll put together a party memorial in Emeryville.

His ashes will be scattered in the Pacific.

Bill’s last competition:

M65 Shot Put
WMA: R 15.90m
Name Age Team Finals
1 Busterud, Arild M68 Norway 14.50m 47-07.00
13.91m 14.50m 14.32m 14.48m FOUL FOUL
2 Staeheli, Hansruedi M66 Switzerland 13.91m 45-07.75
12.92m 13.43m 13.51m 13.43m 13.83m 13.91m
3 Nurm, Arvo M68 Estonia 13.47m 44-02.50
13.41m 13.39m 13.47m
4 Krankowski, Waclaw M65 Poland 12.95m 42-06.00
12.11m FOUL 12.32m 12.95m 12.43m 12.67m
5 Hearn, Edward M67 United State 12.77m 41-10.75
11.84m FOUL FOUL 11.87m 12.77m FOUL
6 Talpsepp, Lembit M66 Estonia 12.71m 41-08.50
11.81m 12.36m FOUL 12.51m FOUL 12.71m
7 Tyler, Geoffrey M68 Great Britai 12.05m 39-06.50
10.69m 10.80m 12.02m 11.51m 12.05m 11.91m
8 Igel, Oswald M65 Germany 11.95m 39-02.50
11.86m 11.45m 10.84m 11.62m 11.95m 11.13m
9 Banens, Robert M67 Australia 10.60m 34-09.50
10.60m FOUL FOUL
10 Trescher, Jerzy M66 Poland 9.13m 29-11.50
8.81m FOUL 9.13m
11 Ziegler, Bernard M65 France 9.03m 29-07.50
9.03m FOUL 8.38m
12 Rowlands, Phillip M68 Australia 8.27m 27-01.75
8.12m 8.27m FOUL
13 Roberts, Mike M66 Australia 7.17m 23-06.25
14 Shissler, William M66 United State 6.08m 19-11.50
5.98m 2.84m 6.08m

15 Kennelly, Robert M67 Australia 5.59m 18-04.25
5.59m FOUL 5.57m

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November 17, 2016

11 Responses

  1. ventsi - November 18, 2016

    He lived fully, with dedication. He was probably aware of the health risks, but fulfilled his dream to visit Australia and participate in WMACS. Ayers Rock is a sacred, mystical and spiritual place (at least for the local aborigines), maybe the most suitable place for leaving this spoiled world.

  2. Nick White - November 18, 2016

    He is going to be missed by many; a great friend whose passion and dedication to throws was incredible. It will be tough not seeing him around the ring, and I will do what I can to see that Weight City lives on.

  3. Clay Dennis - November 18, 2016

    I met Bill on the march of athletes during the opening ceremonies. He had a great big smile that will be hard to forget.

  4. Ken Stone - November 18, 2016

    On Twitter, @weightcity claims Irene Obera as one of its own as well.

  5. George Patterson - November 18, 2016

    Wonderful, kind man, who was a friend to everybody. My dad and I will miss him dearly.

  6. Alan Kolling - November 18, 2016

    Ken, Bill was a classy guy who will be missed by his many friends. And yes, that included Irene Obera who along with several of my other athletes all joined Weight City a while ago in part because of his support of her throwing (for the multis) and their running. (That’s also my photo of him throwing in Perth, posted and tagged on FB)

  7. Rob Jerome - November 19, 2016

    I only got to know Bill recently, but at Perth he showed all those wonderful qualities that others have described. He was a great competitor as well as a great supporter of others in the Weight City group, including Irene and Shirley. His beaming face in the stands said it all as he watched his friends compete.

  8. Terry Parks - November 20, 2016

    Spread me on the water,
    Carry my spirit
    To far and near
    And remember me
    Like I was and will
    Always be.

    Rest In Peace Bill

  9. Dan Lloyd - November 20, 2016

    Humble, caring, dedicated to all throwers at any level. Bill was a partner in building Weight City. He loved Cal, all-comer meets, The Bigs in Masters and Senior competitions. He showed up and got you into his T-Shirt. Watch for him.

  10. Major Castleberry III - November 25, 2016

    I met Bill about 8 years ago when I began frequenting The Broken Rack, our local watering hole.

    He was such a soft-spoken guy, I’m not even sure how we began talking, but once we started, we clicked instantly. We had many beers together, many great times, and many great talk, not only at The Rack: imagine a 60 year-old white man and a mid-twenties black man as best buddies – such was the spirit Bill has.

    He invited me out to a couple Cal Basketball games – we were in the building when they upset #1 Arizona. We also caught many Warriors games together and also went out to a couple Raiders game tailgates. And those of you who were close to him knew how he loved to ‘take in the sights’ – a hobby we delighted in regularly.

    I considered Bill one of my very best friends, we just got along so well, and never had a single negative or tense interaction with him. He just loved life, and did his best to live it to the fullest – he made sure he loved all he did, even in his labors.

    Bill Shissler was a phenomenal example of a man and how to live, spreading joy, smiles, and good will amongst whomever was lucky enough to enjoy his presence. I loved him and am blessed to have been able to spend so much time with such a soul – I look forward with anticipation to the time I see him again.

  11. Maureen Hagar - December 11, 2016

    I met Bill in 1981. We both worked at Ford Aerospace. Our last names were close to each other (Sisler & Shissler) was was funny. We played alot of racquetball together and he was very good.
    I moved back to Sacramento in 1982 and haven’t seen him since. He was such a kind person. He was loved by so many people and he loved his job and people.
    I am glad to have known him and considered him my friend.

    Maureen Hagar

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