BROOKSVILLE — The coin show started Saturday morning with a eulogy.
Terry Martin was standing by a table with a picture of his best friend as collectors and dealers with the West Hernando Coin Club set up their stalls inside the Elks Lodge banquet hall. He picked up a microphone and began to speak.
"There's one of us no longer here," he said. "We're missing a warm, smiling personality. And that's the great personality of Bill Shuler."
They all knew Shuler. He was an avid dealer and club member who never missed the coin shows. He never cussed, Martin said, and he was always smiling.
At first, few paid attention. It had been about a month since Shuler's body was found behind a liquor store in Tarpon Springs, and no news had come from law enforcement.
Authorities were looking for Shuler's business partner, whom he went to meet the night he died. That was it.
As he spoke, Martin felt sad because it seemed they were starting to forget, and he needed them to remember. He was at the show to raise money for Shuler's widow, Esther.
So he told them something new. He said Esther Shuler received her husband's death certificate Friday.
"The cause of death," he said, "was a bullet to the head."
Everyone paid attention then.
• • •
On May 21, Shuler told his wife he would drive from their home in Homosassa to Holiday, where he would meet Tony Maresca. They worked together selling items in area flea markets.
When he didn't come home, his wife reported him missing, and detectives with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office began investigating. His truck, which was found outside a storage unit in Holiday, had signs that suggested foul play.
His body was found two days after he died.
Melanie Snow, a spokeswoman with the Sheriff's Office, said there's nothing new in Shuler's case. Detectives are still looking for Maresca, and Martin said Esther Shuler hadn't received any new information.
Back at the coin show, Martin continued his eulogy: News of Shuler's cause of death brought his widow some consolation.
"She feels he did not suffer in any way," he said.
Esther Shuler found herself with no money after her husband's death, Martin said. That's why he was seeking donations.
"I know Bill would never ask for help," Martin said to the crowd. "But the thing we would ask is that we help his widow.
"I think that's the least that we can do."
• • •
Martin ended his eulogy, sat by the donation table and wiped tears from his eyes.
The show got under way.
He watched as customers came in and bargained with club members, some of whom saw Shuler on the Wednesday he died. He was doing what he did every Wednesday, looking for deals at Stokes Flea Market in Citrus County.
He was a quiet and friendly man, Martin said, who took care of everyone. They met in their Brooksville church four years ago and became friends when he helped Martin get started as a collector.
Shuler was the last one to sit down in church because he always helped people to their pews, Martin said. But more than anything else, he was a great dealer, always looking for whatever would make money, whether it was coins, guns or antiques.
The last time they spoke was at church, a week before Shuler died. He said they talked about a deal Shuler found on some popular pocket knives.
At the show, Martin said that although he was saddened at first by how few people donated — he would collect more than $700 — he was confident more members would help after they tallied the day's earnings.
Still, he said, Shuler wouldn't have waited.
"If one of them had died …" Martin said. "Do you know who would've been the first person to donate? Bill Shuler."