Villa Maria Manor honors Board President Robert Fidler

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Robert Fidler, the president of the Villa Maria Manor Board of Trustees, was honored for his more than four decades of service with the unveiling of a portrait of him that will be hung in the lobby of the senior housing facility. Fidler thanks Bishop J. Mark Spalding for attending the unveiling. Photo by Andy Telli

For more than four decades, Robert Fidler has used his expertise in finance and banking in the service of the Diocese of Nashville’s efforts to provide affordable housing. 

As president of the Villa Maria Manor Board of Trustees, Fidler was honored on Friday, Nov. 19, with the unveiling of his portrait, which will be displayed in the facility’s lobby. 

“Bishops often speak for others,” Bishop J. Mark Spalding said during the ceremony to unveil the portrait. “Here I say, for the whole diocese, thank you. You have shown the love of Christ for others.” 

“Thank you all and thank the Lord for giving me an opportunity to serve … and to contribute,” said Fidler, a parishioner at Holy Family Church in Brentwood.  

“It’s been a labor of love,” he said. “I got a lot more out of it than I put into it, I guarantee you.” 

Fidler worked for 46 years in the mortgage banking industry, providing financing primarily for affordable housing, assisted living and nursing home projects, he said.  

His first involvement with the diocese’s efforts to provide affordable housing came in 1968 when the company he was working for provided the financing for the Maria Manor East housing complex in East Nashville. 

From there, he served on the boards that oversaw the development of Villa Maria Manor, Mary, Queen of Angels Assisted Living Facility, the Cloisters, and the West Meade Health Care Center, which all provide housing for seniors. 

“It’s hard for me to think of anybody so faithful and so good to serve so long,” David Glascoe, the retired executive director of Villa Maria Manor and Mary, Queen of Angels, said of Fidler during the ceremony. “It has been a wonderful testimony of what faith and hard work can accomplish.” 

Brian Cooper, the Chancellor and Chief Operationing Officer of the Diocese of Nashville, served with Fidler as the president of the board for Mary, Queen of Angels. “The knowledge, the heart, the soul, your incredible history here … the diocese owes you such a debt of gratitude,” Cooper told Fidler. “Not only past residents, but future generations of residents who will be helped at Villa Maria Manor owe you a debt of gratitude.” 

Robert Fidler with the portrait and Bishop J. Mark Spalding.

Jim McCann, the vice president of the Villa Maria Manor board, said Fidler had been his mentor in the banking industry. “The most important lesson you taught me a long time ago was time, talent, treasure,” he said. “We have an obligation to use the knowledge we have learned to help others.” 

The ceremony to honor Fidler with the unveiling of the portrait came as a surprise to him. “It blew my mind,” he said. “I was told I was coming over here for a finance committee meeting.” 

Fidler was touched by the show of appreciation for his service. “All you people being here is so special,” he told the gathered family and friends. “All of you in this room means a ton to me.” 

Villa Maria Manor is on sound financial footing and well-positioned for the future, Fidler said. 

“We have a great reputation,” he said, which allows the apartments at Villa Maria Manor to remain full with a long waiting list.  

The plaque that will be attached to the portrait reads: “Robert Fidler: Our grateful appreciation for over four decades of service to the seniors of Villa Maria Manor as friend, financier, board member and president, placed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Villa Maria Manor 1980-2020. “ 

Fidler has served as president of the Villa Maria Manor Board of Trustees for 21 years. He also served on the boards for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville and St. Mary Villa Child Development Center, and on the Board of Trustees for Mary, Queen of Angels. 

“It’s been a great trip,” he said. 

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