MIDDLETOWN — In 1992, Mike Sanders, then president of the Middletown Area United Way, was searching for the right person to lead the annual campaign the following year.
He found that person in Carl R. Fiora.
Fiora was former president and CEO of Armco Steel Co., the largest company in the city. He was more than a powerful man from Middletown.
“He was passionate about his job and he was passionate about his community,” Sanders remembered. “He was a true leader in the community.”
Fiora’s leadership position “open a lot of doors” at United Way, Sanders said. Few potential contributors turned him down.
But Fiora didn’t strong arm potential donors.
“He did it in a kind, very calm way,” said Sanders, who noted Fiora led a campaign that exceeded goal.
Fiora, who remained active in the Middletown community after he retired from Armco, died March 25 from heart failure. He was 88.
He worked and lived in Middletown. He wanted to make it a better place to live. For decades, those in leadership positions at the Middletown steel plant were encouraged to accept volunteer positions in the community.
That meant coaching Knothole baseball, youth basketball, volunteering at the hospital, or serving on any of the numerous boards at the various organizations.
Armco employees were urged to be active in the city.
“He typified that,” Sanders said.
He served as a trustee of First United Methodist Church, president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butler County from 2000 to 2005. president of the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Middletown Regional Hospital.
Jon Fiora, 57, one of Fiora’s three living children, said his father followed in the footsteps of his father, who was active in the Middletown community.
“That always stayed with him,” Fiora said of his father’s dedication to his hometown. “He liked to help other people and share his experiences so they could better themselves.”
Fiora’s parents, Angelo and Mary Fiora, were Italian immigrants. The family wasn’t rich in the financial sense. But when it came to family, they were wealthy. Instead of exchanging Christmas presents, the Fiora family traveled from home to home and ate meals together for two weeks.
“That was their Christmas,” Fiora said.
Fiora said his father often offered advice. But he never told his children what to do or how to act.
“He would ask questions like, ‘Have you thought about this?’” his son said. “He let us learn from our mistakes.”
Fiora earned a degree in metallurgical engineering from Ohio State University where he met his wife, Margaret. They were married for 65 years and have four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
But all this happiness comes with heartache.
Their son, Matt Fiora, was killed in a motorcycle crash in 2016.
“You know what they say,” Jon Fiora said.
He didn’t have to finish the sentence.
Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children.
CARL FIORA CAREER TIMELINE
- Joined Armco’s Middletown Works as a metallurgist in 1957.
- After military service with the U.S. Army, he returned to the Works and was promoted to assistant to the superintendent of the Blast Furnace at the Hamilton plant in 1960.
- In 1964, he returned to Middletown as assistant to the superintendent of the Open Hearth.
- In 1966 he was named superintendent of the Blast Furnace.
- He was promoted to area superintendent for the Blast Furnace and Coke Plant departments of the Middletown and Hamilton plants in 1969.
- He advanced to general superintendent in 1970 and to Middletown Works manager in 1974.
- He was transferred to corporate headquarters in April 1976 as assistant vice president-corporate strategy and was made vice president-Eastern Steel Division in December of 1976.
- In February 1978, he was named president of the Eastern Steel Division.
- He was named area vice president for the Manufacturing and Services Group for Armco Inc. in June 1983.
- He returned as president of the Eastern Steel Division in December of 1986 with the responsibility for the sales and operating functions of the carbon steel facilities at the Middletown Works and the Ashland Works.
- He was named president and CEO of Armco Steel Co. in 1989.
SOURCE: Fiora family