William D. “Bill” Maher

William Maher

William Dale “Bill” Maher (1931-2023)

A constant for the sport in South Dakota, Maher first became involved with USA Softball as a player, coach and umpire before transitioning into the administrative side of the game in 1972 where he served as the USA Softball of South Dakota Commissioner for 42 years. While in this position, Maher worked as a team with his late wife, Rosemary Ann Maher (1939-2022), to boost team registrations from 350 to over 2,000 in the heyday of softball. The South Dakota umpire program also flourished under Maher’s guidance with yearly state or National Umpire Schools and registration numbers as high as 500. During his time as Commissioner, Maher instituted a permanent structure for the USA Softball of South Dakota Hall of Fame, began and distributed a quarterly “South Dakota Softball News” and created a scholarship program for eligible high school seniors with approximately $90,000 being awarded over the last 30 years. In 2022, Maher and Rosemary were jointly recognized for their trailblazing leadership and contributions to the sport as inductees into the USA Softball of South Dakota Hall of Fame.

William D. “Bill” Maher, youngest son of John B. and Rose E. (O’Connor) Maher was born January 27, 1931, in Pierre, South Dakota, and died May 15, 2023, at his Spearfish home surrounded by his loving family.

Bill married Rosemary Ann Bruner of Geddes, S.D., at St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church in Pierre on June 22, 1963. To this union seven children were born. Twin daughters, Michelle and Patricia, sons, Michael (Jeanne) and Patrick John (Lisa); daughters, Mary Cook (Allen), Teresa Bartlett (Frank), and Colleen Thompson (Charles). Also blessed to share his life are grandchildren, Heather McQueen, Mia Semmler, Samantha Nordbye (Shawn), Andrea and Joel Thompson, Nicole, Max, Christina, and Jennifer Bartlett, Kathleen Cook, and Peyton Higgs, as well as great-grandchildren, Zachary Hagemann, and Victoria Nordbye.

Bill graduated from Pierre High School in 1949, where he lent a helping hand at Tyler’s Dairy prior to his enlistment in the U.S. Army which included a ten-month tour in Korea and teaching at the Infantry school in Ft. Benning, GA. Upon his honorable discharge, Bill attended S.D.S.U., Brookings. Returning to Pierre, ever helpful and work oriented, his diligence was noticed by the South Dakota Department of Veterans affairs in Pierre where he was hired as a veteran’s service officer, a position he held for 33 years, striving to improve the lives of fellow veterans. In 1978, this employment moved his family to Sturgis where they lived for nearly 25 years. In the midst of these differing employment opportunities, an entrepreneurial spirit led the couple in and out of insurance adjusting, concession businesses and eventual restaurant ownership.

His industriousness and high expectations could be seen in all areas of life, including his passion for the game of softball. This love of softball led him to join his local softball association which grew to greater involvement at a state and national level.  In 1972, Bill was appointed SD Amateur Softball Association State Commissioner, a position he held for forty-two years. Upon his retirement from SDASA in 2013, he was named Commissioner Emeritus. In honor of the tireless work that the couple undertook, Bill and Rosemary were inducted into the S.D. Softball Hall of Fame in 2022. They were proud to be part of this organization and were gifted with many friendships that lasted a lifetime. The couple relocated to Spearfish in 2002 and in their spare time they actively enjoyed the beauty of the Black Hills, especially Terry Peak, and traveled to a variety of destinations including Mediterranean countries and the British Isles.

Bill was a lifelong member of the VFW and the American Legion. Noble in purpose and ever mindful of his civic and patriotic duty, Bill served on the West River Draft Board for a twenty-year period. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Honorable Order of Blue Goose.

To all who knew him, Bill was a great conversationalist. He could and did develop a rapport with almost everyone he came in contact, even if not seeing eye to eye. Being very social, he taught his children and grandchildren the virtue of patience as we waited for these conversations to conclude.  Although Bill would never have described himself this way, those who knew and loved him best recount him as being caring, a fierce friend, headstrong (stubborn), honorable, loyal, selfless, and knowingly grateful and blessed. He was thoughtful and often found little things to make sure you knew he cared. He gave good advice to those who were wise enough to listen. Through it all, his great sense of humor made us laugh and find joy in all different aspects of life. We will remember the best times, the laughter, the song of a good life.


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