Panther community mourns teacher
The Panther Valley community mourns the loss of their mentor, teacher and coach, but promises to remember the legacy he created.
James “Jim” Filer better known as “Mr. Filer” died on Sunday. His passing comes as a shock to many as great sadness has filled the area he loved so much.
“There was never a point in my life that I didn’t know Mr. Filer,” Pat Crampsie, said. “If you came from Panther Valley, you always had a friend in him. He never forgot you.”
Filer became a fixture of Panther Valley High School, serving as a biology teacher for 42 years. He retired from teaching three years ago.
Before his retirement, people continually asked him why he didn’t retire sooner, and his response was, “I want to wait until Rachelle finishes her freshman year of high school.”
Rachelle, his youngest child will be graduating Friday night as valedictorian of her class.
Filer combined his two passions of teaching and sports into one. When a student misbehaved, his voice would bellow down the hallway, yet he would care for any student who needed help or advice.
He was one of Panther Valley’s greatest cheerleaders, attending nearly every volleyball and basketball game, sitting front row of the bleachers wearing a baseball hat.
Filer’s longevity at the school meant he taught multiple generations of many families. Sometimes, he would confuse the student’s name with a parent, and typically the student would let it go because only Filer was allowed to do that.
When he wasn’t on the sidelines, he would be on the court or in the dugout, serving in a multitude of coaching positions from Panther Valley baseball, football and basketball teams along with Little League, T-ball and CYO basketball.
“He went wherever the kids were. He loved teaching and coaching his former students’ children,” his wife Nancy said.
His heart may have bled black, gold and white, but he had orange and black running through his veins, having been born and raised in Coaldale. Recently, he attended the Seek Memorial Day service because Rachelle recited the Gettysburg Address.
Chuck Shuck, a 1997 graduate from Panther Valley who now lives in Virginia working for the Criminal Investigation Command, believes people like Filer are the driving forces for success of individuals in the community.
“Teachers like Mr. Filer are not just teachers to us former students – they are mentors, friends and family,” Shuck said. “Mentors that sacrifice so much to show the kids that working hard, respecting each other and staying in school will get you very far in life.”
In remembrance of Filer, Shuck initiated a fundraiser through sales of his book, “Gabe: The Dog That Sniffs Out Danger.” For the sale of every five books, which cost $20, Shuck will donate $5 to the Filer family. Shuck has already raised $1,565. The book drive will continue until Thursday morning. In September, Shuck plans on donating enough books for every child to receive one at the Panther Valley Elementary School in memory of Filer.
For more information, contact Shuck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I hope the Filer family can feel the love because at the end of the day, the Valley always comes through for its own, and that’s what makes Panther Valley so special,” Shuck said.
See page 4 for Jim Filer’s obituary.