Memphis, TN-Edwin Douglas “Eddie” Cantler, who served the University of Memphis as an athletic trainer and athletic administrator for more than 40 years, died in his sleep Wednesday night. Cantler was 61 years old.
“The entire University and athletic department family is deeply sadden by the loss of our friend and fellow staff member Ed Cantler,” said athletic director Tom Bowen. “ Ed dedicated his life to his family, the University and the health and betterment of our student-athletes and staff.
“He took on every task as if it were the most important of his career and the care he gave our athletes was beyond reproach,” Bowen stated. “Ed saw every assignment through to completion no matter how lengthy the assignment. He was dedicated, devote and compassionate, a true Tiger until the end. Ed will be greatly missed.”
Cantler, a native of Bowling Green, Kentucky, came to Memphis in the fall of 1970 as a student-trainer, and received his undergraduate degree in 1974. In May of 1975, he received his teacher’s certificate and was hired as a fulltime assistant trainer working under head athletic trainer A. Eugene Smith. Cantler continued his education, receiving his master’s degree in health education from Memphis in August of 1977.
When Doc Smith died in 1980, Cantler became just the second fulltime head trainer in Memphis history and held that position until the spring of 2004 when he was named the Assistant Athletic Director/Support Services.
A member of the National Trainers Association, Cantler was inducted into the Tennessee Athletic Trainer’s Hall of Fame in 1996. He was the state’s Trainer of the Year in 1994 and received the NATA Athletic Trainer Service Award in May of 1998. Cantler was inducted into the All;-American Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 2001.
In 2004, the veteran trainer left his duties as head trainer to take on his new role as Assistant Athletic Director for Support Services, overseeing the managers, trainers and strength staff at the Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex. In addition, he worked as tournament manager for numerous events hosted by the department.
In addition to his work at the University, Cantler was in his 12th year as the Director of Music Ministries at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Memphis.
Cantler is survived by his wife, Jenina, who taught in the U of M Math Department, two sons, Andy, age 25 and Michael, age 24, and two grand-daughters, Harlee and Zadie.
Services for Cantler will be held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on 1695 Central Avenue beginning with a wake from 5-7 pm on Monday, February 17, and a funeral mass to take place on Tuesday at 11 am at the same location.