William C. ChandlerPosted on September 18th at 9:27 am
“It’s not what you leave to children, but what you leave in them,” could best sum up William “Bill” Chandler’s lifelong pursuit of developing our youths into productive citizens. Bill Chandler dedicated more than 50 years of his life cultivating the lives of children through his work with the Montgomery YMCA. His profound involvement left him with the nickname, “Mr. YMCA.”
In 1945 he received his Naval ROTC Officer commission, serving 16 months in the Pacific aboard a Navy minesweeper. He completed two degrees after coming home and at the age of 22, Bill moved to Montgomery working diligently for the YMCA. He became General Director in 1953 and never looked back. Bill organized and directed the Capital Campaign raising over $1 million, a remarkable amount of money in the 1950’s. This fundraising effort allowed for YMCA expansion, bringing two additional facilities to Montgomery.
Bill Chandler served as an important leader during times of racial conflict throughout the state. In 1983 as racial tension was reaching a boiling point in Montgomery, Mr. Chandler stepped in to work with both civil rights and community leaders developing One Montgomery, a bi-racial organization, fostering discussion and better understanding among citizens in matters surrounding race.
An active member of the Montgomery Lions Club for 32 years, the International Association of Lion Clubs elected Bill Chandler as their president in 1980. At this time, he began a remarkable year of travel, visiting all fifty states, the ten provinces of Canada and a total of 42 countries.
Bill Chandler created countless programs, such as the Man of the Year, Alabama Youth Legislature and the Jimmy Hitchcock Award, also serving as president and television chairperson for the famous Blue-Gray Football Game all earning him various accolades and awards. While frequently recognized for his service, there were countless noble deeds he pursued anonymously that will impact generations to come. His son, William Robert Chandler said of his father, “If there is a message that we can all take from his life, it is that it’s a privilege and duty to serve your fellow man. He went around the world to do that.”
His was an investment in a life of uncompromising commitment.