SENECA, S.C. —
September 30, 1940 - April 26, 2013
Gene Leroy Fehler, age 72, passed away in Seneca, SC on Friday, April 26, 2013, after a sudden, month-long fight with cancer.
Born September 30, 1940 in Savanna, IL, to Hazel and Franklin Fehler, Gene grew up in Thomson, IL where he attended York Community
High School (1958); he graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1962 with a degree in English and a Masters degree in 1968. He met his beloved Polly Eggert in Hebron, IL, and married her in 1964.
He taught English and creative writing for 28 years in high school and college, living in Grayslake, Hebron, and Malta, IL, Montgomery, AL, Austin, TX, Watkinsville, GA, and Seneca, SC. After retiring from full-time teaching, he wrote (no more grading papers!) and worked as a poet/ writer-in-residence in AL, TX, NC, GA, and SC, conducting writing workshops in schools.
Gene was a quiet, keen observer of daily life, with a pas- sion for baseball and a subtle sense of humor. His smalltown childhood on the banks of the Mississippi animated much of his writing, and a great deal of his poetry, short stories, novels, and non-fiction revolves around baseball. He savored the experiences and observations of everything from the commonplace to the profound; the family is fortunate that he wrote so much of this down, a great deal of it published and much still to be published. He loved, doted on, and played endlessly with his family, especially his granddaughters.
He loved to play tennis, basketball, golf, softball, and baseball. He played mostly outfield and shortstop on the Lake Keowee Senior Softball team, going 4-5 in his last game four weeks ago, just after the cancer was discovered. He played on an over-28 baseball team with his son Tim for the past six years, where he played first base and pitcher, with his 45-mph with Tim catching his 45-mph roundhouse curve, befuddling batters (he was proud of his 118-year-old battery combination against the youngsters).
Gene was inducted into the Northwest Illinois Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.
With brevity a virtue for him, he is no doubt looking down and shaking his head at this obituary.
Gene and Polly are active members of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Seneca.
Gene is survived by his mother, Hazel of Havana, IL; wife of 48 years, Polly of Seneca, SC and two sons, Tim and wife Jacquelyn of Greenville, SC and Andrew and wife Kellie of Austin, TX; three grandchildren: Mireille and Gabrielle of Greenville, SC and Kaya (with her soon-to-be-born brother) of Austin, TX; two sisters: Rita Badger and husband David of Havana, IL and Rhonda Cunningham and husband Dan of St. Charles, MO; and 22 nieces and nephews. Gene was preceded in death by his father Franklin, and sister Janice Bradley.
A memorial service was held on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, Seneca, SC.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are welcome for St. Mark UMC Caring Ministry or Oconee Hospice of the Foothills, Seneca, SC 29672.