Distinguished Alumnus
Class of 2014
James Edward "Ed" Fidler

AHS Class of 1951

L-R: Ed Fidler, Dorothy Fidler

James Edward Fidler, son of Arthur and Martha Fidler, was born January 26, 1933, and moved to Arcola from Paris when he was in the third grade. At Arcola High School, Ed played right guard on the Purple Riders’ 1950 Okaw Valley co-championship football team. He received Honorable Mention All Okaw and Honorable Mention All Area honors his senior year. After graduating from Arcola High School in 1951, Ed spent decades improving the recreational activities available to Arcola youth. Any child growing up in Arcola in the 1970s and 80s undoubtedly felt the impact of Ed’s volunteer and community service. He donated his time and work to help build the softball and baseball diamonds, as well as the public swimming pool at Moore Park. When he saw youth softball programs in other communities, Ed saw an opportunity to bring softball to Arcola, where his own daughters could benefit, as well as many others.

In 1955 Ed began coaching boys aged 10-12. In the 1960s, he was instrumental in starting softball teams and leagues in Arcola. In the early 80s, Ed coached Junior Football in Mattoon, helping to form the Arcola Junior Football League in 1983. He then went on to coach JFL for twelve years.

Ed’s softball experience extended beyond the youth leagues in Arcola. In 1978, Ed played for and coached the S&K men’s fastpitch softball team that won the National Championship in Lake Tahoe. Then, in 1979, Ed was appointed ASA Softball Commissioner for the State of Illinois, south of I-80. He stayed on as Commissioner for twelve years.

Ed’s service to the community of Arcola and the surrounding area also extended beyond sports. After being elected in 1973, Ed was an Arcola City Council member for 30 years, and Mayor of Arcola for 1½ years. Ed was heavily involved in extending the water line to Arcola in the 1990s. He has served as EDSA Director for Arcola, TIF Board Chairman, and on the Arcola Zoning Board. For six years, Ed was a volunteer Arcola Auxiliary Police Officer and he was also part owner and a volunteer EMT for Arcola Ambulance (Edwards) for eleven years. Ed has served as a volunteer Child Abuse Investigation Officer for the 5th District Court of Illinois since 1995. He even once served on a Federal Grand Jury in Danville, Illinois, for eighteen months.

In honor of Ed’s contributions to the community, he and his wife, Dorothy, were named Grand Marshals of the Arcola Broomcorn Festival in 2003. According to the Arcola Record-Herald special Broomcorn edition that year, the Fidlers were selected “For all they have accomplished in their private and public lives.”

In 2011, the Arcola High School Sports Boosters bestowed an honorary varsity letter “A” on Ed and his wife, Dorothy. The plaque read, “With sincere thanks and recognition for the years of support to our boys and girls athletic programs.” The honor was also paid for their “commitment to follow our athletes at home and at away games.”

Ed has furthered his education in a variety of ways. He attended the American Institute of Technology to study Blue Print and Construction, Lake Land College for EMT training, and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center for Child Abuse Investigation. He also spent 40 years studying safety training with USI and the National Safety Council.

Ed spent many years working in the Arcola community. He began farming for George Pfeifer in 1946, then drove a semi-truck for Harley Fidler. After high school Ed held various jobs, from the manager of a custard stand to a truck driver and bulldozer operator for Frank Bolin. Ed also gained carpenter experience working for Bob Dukeman, Cunningham Engineering and Allan Gray. The majority of Ed’s career (38 years) was spent at USI in Tuscola. There he was a maintenance carpenter and safety director for thirty years. Ed worked at USI from 1956 until his retirement in 1994. Ed also served on the National Safety Council at USI.

Ed married Dorothy Tynan June 20, 1953, and they are the parents of three daughters, Darlene, Brenda and Janice. They also have three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, who have also been sports-minded, keeping Ed and Dorothy busy following their games and competitions. Family is very special to Ed, who once spoke of his grandson Paul as “the highlight of my whole life.” Throughout his life, Ed has enjoyed fishing, especially bass fishing.

In a 2003 interview, Ed said, “I would like to thank everybody in Arcola who’s helped me do some of the things that I have accomplished… Dorothy and I are proud to have called Arcola home for all of these years.”

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Last Revision November 11, 2017