On Thursday, family, friends and former players gathered together to remember the life of former Taylor football coach Eddy Spiller.
Spiller passed away Tuesday, Nov. 27, at the age of 75. He was born Oct. 11, 1943, in Texas City, as the youngest of three boys to parents Travis and Ivy Spiller. He attended Bronte High School where he lettered in multiple sports and where he met the love of his life, Sue.
After graduation from college Spiller began a long teaching and coaching career including stops at Pearland, Eastland, Jayton and most notably in Taylor where he taught and coached for 28 years.
"As far as I'm concerned, he had one of the best football minds of any coach we've had – and I've been here 42 years,” said Larry Robbins, who considered Spiller as his best friend. “Whether it was offense or defense, he understood the game. He did his best to work with the players and they respected and responded to that. He had a group of coaches that were as dedicated as the players were, and they all came together to create something pretty special, especially during that four-game span [in 1984].”
While the head football coach in Taylor, Spiller led the Ducks through the “Injunction Bowl” season of 1984, which included an unprecedented four playoff games in 15 days.
Dwayne Ariola, who was a senior during the Injunction Bowl, described Spiller as an "Xs and Os guy."
"We always respected him like a father," Ariola said. "When he walked in, everybody hushed and it was time to get busy."
Several years ago, when players came to visit, Spiller told them he wasn't the lovable coach, he was always the Xs and Os.
While he was known for coaching the game of football strategically, he also taught life lessons through the game. Ariola used the phrase it takes a village, and said Spiller was a major part of the local village.
"He taught you how to depend on others and trust others," he said. "That corresponds to life. You have to depend on others, delegate to others and trust them once you instill that training in them."
While coaching in Taylor, Spiller had 31-33-2 record, which included two district titles, a bi-district title and Taylor winning its 500th football game.
"He had a good track record while he was here. They (Spiller and Shirl Frazier) came from West Texas together and did a good job,” Robbins said. “Things haven't quite been the same since those days."
Stan Werner, who also played for Spiller said his coach was "hard as nails."
"He expected you to give everything you had," Werner said. "If you weren't willing to give 100 percent, there were other sports for you."
Werner said Spiller didn't have anything against players, but he expected them to try to reach their full potential.
"He took me under his wing and said if I wanted to succeed, I had to push," Werner said. "He pushed himself and everybody else."
Spiller left Taylor for a coaching job in the Houston area after the 1986 season. He returned to Taylor a few years later in a teaching capacity.
In 2000, he retired from teaching and in 2003 moved back to Bronte where he enjoyed daily rounds of golf and tending to his numerous pets including dogs, cats, pigeons, goats and horses.
As Spiller got older, his former players made it a point to visit and spend time with him. Some said it was like they are still playing for him now as he was more than a coach, but a mentor.
"He was honorable," Ariola said emotionally. "He just made you want to be a better man. He wanted you to be a better person everyday whether it was football or life in general."
"Other than my mom and dad, he was one of the people that pushed me in life," Werner added.
is survived by his wife of 55 years, Sue, a son Kevin and his wife Sherri, a son, Kelly and his wife Jennifer, grandchildren Travis, Taylor, Hannah, Reagan and Jillian, his brother Don and his wife Anita as well as a sister-in-law Kay and numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial service was held Thursday at the American Legion Hall in Murphy Park.