Merchant was killed in a traffic crash in Hopkins Township.
He was killed in a collision between his sport utility and a tanker truck at 134th Avenue and 26th Street.
Michigan State Police from the Wayland post said the semi was eastbound on 134th Avenue and the SUV was traveling west when the SUV crossed the center line.
The driver of the tanker truck was not injured.
Merchant’s eldest daughter, Nicki Cardosa, is assistant coach for the Wayland softball team, which later that day won its state semifinal contest against St. Clair 11-0 to advance to the championship game. His sister-in-law, Cheri Ritz, is the head coach.
Cardosa, Ritz and team members all were notified immediately after the game by officials from the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
The situation was particularly sad and eerie for Ritz, who lost her father, Wayne, in a traffic crash after a basketball game several years ago.
Jessica Merchant, the second eldest of his daughters, was all All-American shortstop for the national champion University of Michigan softball team in 2005. She now is a coach at the University of Minnesota. Younger sister Brittini and Jessica were selected to Miss Softball honors for the entire state. Brittini is coaching at Northwestern University.
Youngest daughter Macy was an outfielder at Central Michigan University and now is a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Minnesota.
Bill Merchant, a Hopkins High School graduate, for the past several years had been junior varsity basketball coach under head coach Mike Hudson.Bill was a graduate of Hopkins High School. He worked for many years at Steelcase and was currently employed at Perrigo
PHOTO: Bill Merchant surrounds himself with his four very athletic daughters (from left) Jessica, Brittini, Macy and Nicki Cardosa.