by Dennis Dalman
It was a such a shocking, sudden tragedy that devastated so many people – the death of Josh Fiedler of rural St. Joseph.
On Dec. 9, 2020, Fiedler, 39, was exercising during lunch break on his at-home treadmill when he collapsed from heart failure. He left a wife, Liz, and a 3-year-old daughter, Vidalia. The day after Fiedler’s funeral, Liz discovered she was one month pregnant. Seven months later, she gave birth to their second daughter, Davie. One year and six months after Fiedler’s passing, his family and friends still miss him terribly.
Liz wrote a children’s book, “When Flowers Bloom,” in honor of her husband and daughter Vidalia, to whom he loved to read storybooks. More recently, Liz and others are raising money for an endowment fund for the St. John’s University Josh Fiedler Memorial Scholarship. It is a fitting memorial and legacy because Fiedler thrived during his four years at SJU. He graduated in 2003 with a degree in political science.
On one recent weekend, Liz raised $2,000 for the endowment fund by selling bouquets of flowers she grows at her hobby farm, “Sunny Mary Meadow,” located along CR 2 near St. Joseph. She hopes to raise $10,000 for the endowment in each of the next five years. Friends are working toward that goal, too, such as at a tailgating party at a Twins game and Pampered Chef home parties, as well as in-home clothing parties. She hopes to sell flowers a couple times each year to achieve the endowment goal, with help from friends.
The flower sales for the endowment are just a small part of her wider flower-sales business at Sunny Mary Meadow, where she grows a wide variety of colorful stem flowers that can be used in bouquets. Customers at the farm can take part in arranging bouquets just the way they want them to look.
Once the endowment is in place, it will provide a $2,250 scholarship every year to a deserving SJU student who hails from a rural area. The “rural” qualification is because Fiedler grew up on the “Century” Fiedler dairy farm where Liz still lives, which is only 15 miles from Collegeville and SJU.
The farm is named Sunny Mary Meadow in honor of Josh’s mother, Mary Fiedler, who died in a farm accident 11 years before Josh died in his home. Mary had a pleasant “sunny” disposition – thus the name of the farm. Her husband, Ray, is now retired from farming.
Josh was a farm lender and vice president of the marketing sales team at Compeer Services in Waite Park. He was also a town board supervisor for St. Wendel Township.
In 2014, he married Liz Weber, who was raised in Lake Benton in southwest Minnesota. During their courtship and after the marriage, Liz commuted often to South Dakota where she completed a doctorate degree in nursing. She is a part-time nurse practitioner for the CentraCare health system.
Josh loves his college experiences. He was an avid sports fan and host of a very popular hour-long “sports talk show” on the college station, KSJN. As an outdoorsman, he relished the woodsy beauty of the SJU campus. He was also a member of the trapshooting club.
His interest in politics led him to countless debates with fellow students and faculty on a wide spectrum of topics. He ran twice for election to the SJU Senate and was elected both times; the second time he was named senate president.
Proud of his conservative roots, he was a member of the College Republicans and was always concerned that all sides of an issue should be heard and discussed at SJU and elsewhere. With other students, he founded “Students Fostering Conservative Thought to promote conservative viewpoints, feeling liberal viewpoints tended to predominate too often at the university. In addition, Josh was a student leader for the St. John’s Men’s Center for which he conducted research and gave presentations at conferences.
Donations to the Josh Fiedler Memorial Scholarship endowment fund can be made on the St. John’s University website. Open the website and click on “Give” in the upper bar. Fill out the information (amount of gift, name, email, etc.) Then scroll to a box near the bottom that states “In Memory of” and type “Josh Fiedler” in that box.
Another way to donate is to send a check in the mail to Josh Fiedler Memorial Scholarship, 2850 Abbey Plaza, Collegeville, MN 56321. Write “Donation to SJU” on the check and be sure to write “Josh Fiedler Scholarship” in the check’s memo line.
To learn more about Liz and Sunny Mary Meadow, see her flower-business website at sunnymarymeadow.com.