Distinguished Alumnus
Class of 2023

John V. "Jack" Fishel
(January 20, 1938 - January 17, 2023)

AHS Class of 1956

Jack Fishel was the second of an eventual four John Virgil Fishels with Arcola roots, born on January 20, 1938, at his father Dr. Fishel’s office in Arcola. He was the son of John Virgil, MD, and Florence Mary (Brown) Fishel, and the little brother of sisters Mary (Allington, AHS class of 1947) and Carole (Renfro, AHS class of 1952). He married Lynda Kay Warfel of Tolono on December 27, 1958, in Arcola, IL.

Though he bounced around a bit early in his work career, including jobs in Terre Haute, IN; Madison, WI; and Rockford, IL, Jack and Lynda were able to work their way back to Arcola to raise their kids. Jack and Lynda’s five children graduated Arcola High School, including John Virgil III (1978) and his wife Loretta, Jeff (1979) and his wife Toni, Jim (1982) and his wife Chris, Amy Jo Mueller (1988) and her husband Bob, and Ali (1990) Keller and her husband Brett. Jack and Lynda have eighteen grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren and eight nieces and nephews.

Jack was a 1956 graduate of Arcola High School, where he was senior class president and was also chosen to receive the SAR and American Legion awards. He was co-captain of Arcola’s 1955 undefeated Okaw Valley Champion football team and a unanimous pick to the all-conference team as quarterback. Jack was also a four-year member of the basketball team and was involved in Lettermen’s Club, Student Council and Spanish Club. He attended the University of Illinois for a year and was in the Army ROTC until he transferred to Eastern Illinois University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Business Management in 1967.

The majority of Jack’s working career was with the US Department of Labor, retiring in 1996 with over thirty years of service. His advocacy and respect for hourly wage earners remained steadfast. Following his retirement, Jack owned and operated Fishel Real Estate for several years. He and Lynda have been active supporters of Illinois agriculture throughout their lives.

Jack was a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Arcola, served on the Arcola City Council for many years and as Arcola Mayor. He was a board member of Arcola Sports Boosters, a charter board member of Arcola Alumni Association and an Arcola Foundation lifetime member. Jack and Lynda were also selected as Grand Marshals for the 2013 Broom Corn Festival parade.

A resident of Arcola nearly all his life, Jack loved all things Arcola. He was a master of reading a room and leaving everyone and every place better than he found them. In his twenties, a chance encounter with a traveling stranger he welcomed to his home evolved into a lifelong relationship that is extending through the new generations. Jack highly esteemed the work ethic of that migrant worker, and so many others who followed his path, contributing to the beautiful diversity found here in Arcola today. His deep love for the Hispanic culture was best expressed watching a Puerto Vallarta sunset next to his cherished Lynda.

Other highlights of his life would have to include his years as a competitor, especially his years as a standout quarterback for Coach Lou Baker’s Okaw Valley champion teams in 1954 and 1955. Also very special to him was the time spent as the iconic purple-clad fan sitting atop the press box throughout the legendary Thomas-Bradford era cheering his sons, as well as an eventual son-in-law and a grandson on to state championships. Oh how he will enjoy the view from his heavenly press box as he cheers for the next generation of his Fishel grandchildren who currently walk the halls.

Jack had many passions and nourished his soul in an eclectic array of locations throughout his life. He shared his heart with the Embassy bowling leagues, at Arrol’s pharmacy and coffee shop, with cribbage and euchre buddies and at Kaskaskia Country Club with “The Gangbangers” to name but a few of his treasured places and people. Perhaps most sacred to him was his hunting property in Charleston, running deer camp for his less-equipped sons and hunting companions. He also spent a bunch of time in his earlier years deer hunting down south in Vienna, Illinois, with his old buddies including JR VanGundy, John East, Louie Hettinger and many others. Oh how he loved the outdoors! And a reciprocal relationship that was…dogs, birds, deer, squirrels, iguanas, you name it!, were all better fed and happier in his presence.

Jack passed away in January of 2023.

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Last Revision September 25, 2023