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Please, someone, corroborate Michael Fiedler’s fate.

April 9, 2021
Michael takes a photo of me in our house.


Soon after I received news that my dear friend Michael Fiedler died I posted an appreciation and lament. 

Soon after I got an evening phone call from Swain Wolfe, a man I had only the briefest connection with, more than 30 years previously.  I think he tossed me out of a meeting when I was a reporter for the Montana Kaimin, published by the associated students of the University of Montana.  I was a lousy reporter and a worse writer, so I studied chemistry instead.  That was my ordinary interest, and it led me toward a career in pharmacy, a career that was good to me and I to it.  I think I left the profession in better shape than I found it.

The same evening Peter Koch phoned me in appreciation of a piece I wrote about Michael. I told him about my conversation with Swain. Peter said he loved Swain. Swain is a sweet man, he said.

I meant to write about Swain.  He was my sister’s age, so about 10 years my senior. Therefore, he lived until he was about 82, or so.  Died by his own hand.  Suicide is the usual word.  Swain Wolfe’s death prompted a friend to write me a card of sympathy, in solidarity to those who’d lost a loved one to suicide, as she had.

Trouble is, I don’t feel bad that Swain killed himself because he said he had intractable pain he was unable to control.  Death is a natural part of life.

Is all suicide bad?  Perhaps most is bad.  We certainly feel bad when a youngster has a sudden urge to pull the trigger and does.  The ones left behind a young person suffer a huge amount of grief forever. 

Locally, the Suicide Prevention group stages an annual “Out of the Darkness” event involving a three-mile walk.  Our family has walked, worn the tee shirts, attended the rally, participated in the auction, listened to the speeches by the mayor and several city council members.

Somehow, it feels good to walk through town to prevent suicide.  But what about assisted suicide?

When I worked for Joan McCracken at Planned Parenthood I enjoyed looking through the magazines and journals back in the employees area.  I recall seeing one from the Hemlock Society, a group that advocated physician-assisted suicide.

Now I am conflicted.

I particularly am sorry I’ll never again be able to meet up with Swain Wolfe.  When he phoned me to ask about Michael Fiedler, he told me that he and Michael had been very close friends in recent months.  I didn’t mention the incident 40 years ago.  (Yeah, I said 30 years earlier.)

Swain sounded kind and humble.  He said he loved Michael and knew where Michael must have met his end, someplace in Texas.  Swain said he could show me on a map, but the place Michael went with his friends didn’t have a name.  It was in the country, somewhere.

Swain said he’d miss Michael until he died.  For my part, I wanted to know more about the place Michael went.  Apparently it was closer to Mexico.

Then Swain died.

All would be well and good.  Like I said, I was a lousy reporter and a worse writer.  Still guilty as charged!

The deal is, I got no confirmation of Mike’s death. 

I heard about Mike’s death from Bob Gesell, who got the news from Colleen Kane, who got the news from her daughter who got the news from Gary Scales.  Presumably Mr. Scales had first hand information.

I have googled Michael Fiedler numerous times without finding any news to corroborate Mike’s death.

This bothered our friend Mark Fryberger, who is an ace reporter and excellent writer.

Therefore, the mystery is open.  Fiedler’s death remains unconfirmed.  

I asked my son, an emergency room physician, if the lack of corroboration of news of a death was a thing.  He said it might not be.  Notice in a newspaper might not occur, depending.  

Therefore, Fryberger and I have a long-range mission to clear this mystery.

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