By Sherrie Norris
As news of the October 7 death of Carl Fidler began circulating on social media early Tuesday morning, it proved that Watauga County had not only lost a valued educator and civic leader, but also a dear friend and mentor to many.
Not only was Fidler a beloved coach and school principal who touched many lives in and around Watauga County during his storied lifetime, but he was also a veteran who served his country with honor during World War II.
Many people expressing their condolences on Facebook shared how FIdler was an encourager, one who could be trusted with anything, a mentor, a fine gentleman who truly cared about his students — and so much more.
According to Fidler’s obituary, he was a native of Cornelius, the youngest of six children born to William Caldwell Fidler and Margaret Goodrum Fidler.
After high school, he left his hometown and came to Boone to study at Appalachian State Teachers College where he played basketball and completed his master’s degree in education.
His college education was interrupted in January of 1943 when he enlisted in the Army during WWII and served as a medic in the European theater for one year, two months and 12 days.
When his service was completed, he returned to Boone on November of 1945 to continue his education and soon met his future wife and Boone native, Marbeth Louise Winkler. The couple was married on December 20, 1947 and enjoyed 72 years together before his death.
After completing his studies at ASTC, Carl first became a principal at Cove Creek Elementary School and later at Cove Creek High School, where he also coached basketball. In 1965, when the county high schools were consolidated, Fidler was named assistant principal of the new Watauga High School.
He was an active volunteer in various church and community organizations and events, including that as Boy Scout leader.
During his summer recesses in the late 50s and early 60s, Fidler served as business manager for the outdoor drama Horn in the West .
In the early 1960s, he and Marbeth built the Plaza Motel on Blowing Rock Road, which was run by the family until the 1980s.
After Fidler retired from education, he and his wife remained active in the Boone business community and in positions within Boone United Methodist Church.
Fidler successfully ran for public officer and served as a Watauga County commissioner for 12 years. During that time, he was very involved in initiatives to support the educational system in the county, as well as supporting the development of a public transportation system known today as AppalCart.
Fidler was a dedicated family man and cherished being surrounded by students and faculty in the Watauga County schools. He was fond of telling stories about his years in World War II, and in his later years, became more comfortable in revealing more detailed stories about the impacts of the war. He loved living in the mountains, fond enough of his backyard that he loved describing specific stories about each and every tree.
Fidler is survived by his wife Marbeth and their four children, Donald Carl Fidler of Morgantown, West Virginia, John Perry Fidler of Boone, Mark Winkler Fidler (and wife Ruby) of Granite Bay, California and Margaret Elizabeth Smith of Matthews. He is also survived by six grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Services for Carl Fidler will be held at Boone United Methodist Church at 2 p.m. Saturday, November 16. Austin and Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Fidler family. Online condolences may be shared at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.