DAZE WORK: Steve Fields saying goodbye to Council, civic involvement
Editor Eric Bernsee wrote this column on longtime colleague Steve Fields in December, on the occasion of Fields' final meeting as a member of the Greencastle City Council.
With Fields' death at age 65 on Saturday, we've revived the tribute.
Always a sucker for a good underdog story as a sports writer, Steve Fields is now beating the odds himself.
Thursday night he closed the book on a four-year term as a councilman in Greencastle’s Third Ward. But that’s not the end of the story.
Fields wasn’t even supposed to be there if you believe his doctors’ prognostications. He wasn’t supposed to be anywhere for that matter.
In the fall of 2017, doctors told him he had 18-24 months to live. That diagnosis would have run out on him earlier this fall.
“I’m here,” he triumphantly told the City Council Thursday evening in saying goodbye to his fellow councilors and adios to any active public life.
“I’m bowing out of everything,” Fields said. “It’s pretty much to the point that a two-hour meeting like this exhausts me.”
He’s not alone there.
“For those of you who don’t know,” Fields continued, “I’ve been in a cancer battle for two years.”
Now that is understating it.
Fields, always adept at multitasking as a longtime sports editor and cohort, has taken on five – count ’em five -- different cancers. Even he has to shake his head at the ridiculousness of that. Living proof that if it’s not one thing, it’s another.
Basically he’d visited the doctor, who’d tell him, “Hey, good news, this or that cancer is in remission. But guess what? We found another form of cancer while we were examining you.”
The whole health matter began with a diagnosis of a form of leukemia back in 2017. Soon after, doctors detected spots on his liver that they believed were tumors.
When surgeons opened him up, they realized that invasive cancer cells had taken over. They sewed him back up and sent him home.
“I was supposed to be going home to rest for nine months while my liver regenerated,” Fields said in the City Hall parking lot after the meeting.
Our impromptu huddle had the feeling of a post-game interview as he delved into his medical dilemma, sharing more details than he had previously.
Fields had a passionate goal of beating the odds to be around to see son Joey graduate from college. He blew that milestone away, witnessing his son’s graduation from the University of Indianapolis last May and admitted Thursday night that even though he wants his son to move on to bigger and better things, he loves having him around these days.
Meanwhile, Fields continues to be as productive as possible. He’s already done an interview with longtime local radio sportscaster Doug Wokoun for an upcoming feature in the Banner Graphic that should be coming soon to a newspaper near you.
He hasn’t totally ruled out covering a couple of basketball games for us this season, although Fields admits being exhausted after the last game he did. And a late-season football game in unseasonably cold, wet and windy conditions just about brought about the end of a more than 40-year sportswriting career, he admitted.
Currently he’s undergoing an experimental type of treatment, which he says combines two kinds of chemotherapy. So far his body is enduring it and Fields looks like … well, Steve Fields.
Thursday night he fielded accolades from fellow City Council members who thanked him for his candor, diligence and attention to detail.
Dave Murray interrupted that Steve Fields Mutual Admiration Society and Marching Band moment to interject his own take.
“Steve, I want to ask you a question that you should not answer on camera (Greencastle City Council meetings air on the local cable channel). Are you as unvarnished with your wife at home as you are with us?”
Fields laughed, and following Murray’s advice, didn’t answer aloud.
“Steve doesn’t sugarcoat things,” Councilor Stacie Langdon praised.
That probably comes from years of writing about local teams that looked better on paper than on the field of play.
Having brought Steve Fields to Greencastle to fill our vacant sports editor position soon after moving into our new building in 1978, we’ve joked more than once about his first day on the job being April Fool’s Day.
When he ran for City Council I wasn’t sure that was in his wheelhouse. But he tackled the job just as he met the challenges of putting out a daily newspaper.
Nobody ever cared more about the sport, the athletes or the team he was covering. Win or lose he was invested in the importance of the game to those involved, including our readers.
That’s how he dealt with city issues. That’s how he’s dealt with life.