Bill Shemberger is best remembered for racing the back roads of northern Indiana peddling band instruments. Though born into an Elkhart family of modest means, his parents insisted their children have a music education. Bill played the trombone; his sister, Hazel, played the piano. Their father worked for the railroad so Bill traveled free to Chicago for trombone lessons. By the time he was in high school, Bill was playing in dance bands all over northern Indiana. When his father’s health failed and Bill became his parents’ sole support, he attended school by day, worked nights in a bakery and played with bands on weekends.
Following discharge from the Army, Bill attended DePauw University to study music education. While there he became student assistant band director and he met his future wife. Marybelle Haab was also a music education
major. He taught for a year in Martinsville, Illinois, before he and Marybelle moved to Plymouth. With a recommendation from T.A. Kleckner, Bill became band director at Plymouth in 1950 and taught for two years.
Bill’s musical journey took a new turn when he purchased the Tanner Music Store. Bill knew all the band directors in the area so was very successful in the band instrument business. The store grew with a large inventory in records, sheet music, pianos, organs and stereo equipment. A studio operation provided lessons in all instruments including piano, organ, guitar, banjo and accordion. Bill sold the business in 1969.
Belle Shemberger Henry started the William E. Shemberger Music Scholarship Fund in 1994 in memory of her husband and the many years he helped students connect with music. The fund awards a scholarship to a Plymouth High School Senior who has shown outstanding abilities in the area of instrumental music.