DANVILLE – Retired Danville District 118 Superintendent David Fields was honored for his service and dedication to education Wednesday during a grand opening of the district’s administrative center that was named for him.
A large crowd of community members attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, open house and public tour of the Dr. David L. Fields Administrative Service Center at 110 E. Williams St.
Most of all, the community was there to celebrate Fields, whose career with the district spanned 41 years.
Superintendent Alicia Geddis said she was aware of Fields before becoming Danville District 118’s superintendent four years ago.
“He is one of the black superintendents I had heard about and I looked up to him,” she said. “I hope this building makes him proud. It reflects the qualities of the man who it’s named for.”
Lloyd Randle, who asked the school board in 2016 to consider naming the new administration building for Fields, also spoke about Fields and his contributions to the community.
Fields taught social studies at North Ridge Middle School and Danville High School, was administration director for Title I funding, was principal at Northeast Elementary School and East Park Junior High School, served as assistant superintendent for eight years and then superintendent for 10 years starting in 1991 and retiring in 2001.
In addition, Fields served on the Illinois State Board of Education for 10 years from 2004-2014 and as executive director of Laura Lee Fellowship House for 31 years.
“We’re here to honor a man who put others first so others could succeed,” Randle said. “Dr. Fields is a man we all love and admire.”
Randle said he talked to Fields’ wife of 66 years, Marian, who told him “she’s so proud of his accomplishments.”
“She told me ‘he’s the best thing since sliced bread,’” Randle said.
Fields described himself as a Danville “townie” whose family was poor but made education a priority.
“Thank you for this honor you’ve bestowed on me. This means the world to me,” he said of the building dedication. “I’m truly a townie. My parents were poor, but education was important first and foremost.
“This meant so much to me to come back today and see people who I’ve worked with and known over the years,” he said.
One of those people was Fields’ lifelong friend, Ervin Lucas, who was his neighbor growing up and his classmate at Jackson School from 1941-1949.
“We grew up together and we went to school together,” Lucas said. “We were like brothers.”
As he addressed the crowd, Fields expressed his appreciation for all who were there and sprinkled in some funny memories of his time in the district.
“I really truly appreciate everyone who came out on this beautiful day,” he said.
Fields also thanked Geddis “who I have grown to have the greatest respect and love for.”
He recalled his days as an administrator and one day in particular when he was the Dean of Boys and questioned a DHS student named Mark Denman about what he was doing outside of the classroom.
“Our purpose was to keep kids in school, but Mark Denman always had to write an article for the Maroon and White,” he said.
“I don’t believe he was ever in class,” Field quipped about the former superintendent who retired in 2015 and also attended the event.
Fields said he also was thankful for the staff who worked with him during his time in the district — many of whom were in the audience.
“You need the staff to work with you, and I was always blessed to have a staff who worked with me,” he said.
During his tenure on the state board of education, Fields said, “I had the opportunity to travel to school districts across the state, but I was always pleased to come back home.
“We need to teach our children the importance of an education,” he said. “It takes a village to run this district and everyone in the community needs to buy in.”