When he retired as editor of The San Diego Union’s editorial page in 1990, Edward Fike looked back at his 13-year tenure and noted the changes that had occurred in his beloved San Diego.
“We have seen the maturing of the city and a host of new problems,” he said in a March 31, 1990, interview with The San Diego Union. “But these are not problems of decline and decay. These are problems of growth.”
Mr. Fike died Aug. 26 of a heart attack at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas. He was 91.
He worked diligently to help grow San Diego, from promoting the trolley to cofounding the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum, now known as USS Midway Museum. He was instrumental in the convention center’s construction, served on the board of Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute, and founded MILMEC, a local group of media, industrial, legal, military, educational and corporate leaders that has met regularly for 30 years.
“Ed Fike was an unalloyed conservative who always fought tenaciously for what he believed was best for San Diego and America,” said Bob Kittle, who succeeded Mr. Fike as editorial page editor of the Union. “Not everyone shared his conservative outlook, but no one could ever doubt his sincerity and his commitment.”
Edward Lake Fike was born March 31, 1920, in Delmar, Md., the second of four children to Claudius Edwin Fike and Rosa Lake Pegram. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Duke University in 1941 and graduated as an ensign from the Naval Officer Candidate School at Northwestern University in 1942.
As a navy lieutenant and division officer during World War II, he served as navigator aboard the ammunition ship Mount Baker and the amphibious ship Rushmore during its participation in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. He was a naval reservist from 1946 to 1963.
Mr. Fike’s first journalism job was from 1945 to 1948 as editor and co-publisher of the Nelsonville Tribune in Nelsonville, Ohio. After working as director of public information at Duke University and serving on the U.S. Delegation North Atlantic Counsel in Paris, he returned to newspapers in 1953 as associate editor of the Rocky Mount Evening Telegram in North Carolina.
From 1957 to 1968, he was editor and publisher of Fike Newspapers in Montana and California, followed by two years as associate editor of the Richmond News Leader in Virginia.
In 1970, Mr. Fike came to San Diego as director of news and editorial analysis for Copley Newspapers. In 1977, he was named editor of the Union’s editorial pages.
“He was a fearless editorialist,” said Kittle. “In a White House briefing for regional newspaper editors in 1978, Ed directly challenged President Jimmy Carter on his cutbacks in the Navy’s budget at a moment when the Soviet Union was engaged in an arms buildup. The White House transcript of that session shows that the president came out the loser in his encounter with Ed.”
Retired Rear Adm. Riley Mixson, who worked with Mr. Fike on bringing the aircraft carrier Midway to San Diego, remembers his friend as a “real fireball” but also someone who could just as easily defuse a tense situation.
“More than once when we were getting in heated discussions over this issue or that with regards to bringing the Midway here, Ed would say, ‘Let’s just take a deep breath here. We are in it for the same motivation.’
“Every step of the way, Ed had the right amount of sense intermixed with the right amount of humor and ability. He had a very calming effect when passions wanted to take over.”
Mr. Fike is survived by his wife of 59 years, the former Amy Drake of Cardiff; sister Ruth Pittman of St. Petersburg, Fla.; daughters Rosa Stevenson of Solana Beach, Evelyn Chapin of San Jose, Amy Peters of Carlsbad and Melinda Vertin of San Jose; and 10 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his twin brother Claude Fike and sister Evelyn Laupus.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Sept. 23 at First United Methodist Church in Mission Valley. Donations may be made in Mr. Fike’s memory to First United Methodist Church, 2111 Camino del Rio South, San Diego, CA 92108 or to Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute by emailing
From San Diego.com