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Originally published Monday, March 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Coach, educator Frank Fidler, 86, imparted lessons that endure

He was known as a firm man but a fair one, on the court and off, during a long career with the Seattle School District, serving as a coach...

Seattle Times staff reporter

He was known as a firm man but a fair one, on the court and off, during a long career with the Seattle School District, serving as a coach, counselor and school principal, among other posts.

Frank Burke Fidler, 86, died peacefully at his home Feb. 27 with his wife and son at his side. His death was caused by difficulties after a fall, subsequent surgeries and several bouts of pneumonia, according to his son, Brett Fidler, of Bellevue.

Born Aug. 5, 1921, in Cornelius, N.C., Mr. Fidler met the love of his life, Doris Ylvisaker, at a dance.

"I'll never want another man," said Doris, who recently found the packets of letters she said Mr. Fidler wrote her every day while they were engaged and living apart. He was doing graduate work at the University of Washington and she was at Washington State University.

"I won't read them all at once. I'll read one every night so I don't feel so lonely," she said. The two were married 61 years.

Mr. Fidler graduated from Appalachian State Teachers College in 1942 and after graduation was drafted by the New York Giants Baseball organization. Military service interrupted his baseball career and he joined the Air Force in WWII, serving as a meteorologist.

While stationed at Paine Field, he met Doris, marrying her the same year.

He began his career with the Seattle School District in 1947, starting out as a teacher and basketball coach at Garfield High School. He also served as a counselor at Roosevelt and Franklin high schools; vice principal at Garfield from 1959-1961; and principal at several Seattle high schools, including Roosevelt, from 1970-1977.

Mr. Fidler's last position with the district was in the central office, as director of staff relations. He retired around 1980.

He was well known in Seattle athletic circles. Mr. Fidler officiated football and basketball at both the high-school and collegiate levels. He helped establish the Washington State High School Officiating Association and was selected as an official for the Rose Bowl in 1964 and 1976, among other high-profile venues.

He spent several years coaching the Buchan Bakers Amateur Athletic Union basketball team and in 1956 his team won the national championship, and later toured, playing teams in the Philippines and Japan.

Mike McCutchen, 77, of Bothell, remembered working with Mr. Fidler the coach as a player at Garfield. "He was a great basketball coach that took us to state tournaments two times," McCutchen said. "He had a different attitude than most coaches; he didn't berate the players."

Instead, Mr. Fidler helped players get past their mistakes and achieve, McCutchen said.

Most of all, he said, what he learned from Mr. Fidler was how to deal with people. "It was his good attitude, and his patience."

In addition to his wife, Mr. Fidler is survived by his son, Brett Fidler, of Bellevue; brother, Carl Fidler of Boone, N.C.; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A family celebration of Mr. Fidler's life will be in the spring. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Mr. Fidler's name to Childhaven of Seattle.

Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or lmapes@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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