Mitchell recalled that in the 1960s, most of the City Hall reporters worked for newspapers, while she worked for a radio station.
"There was that divide," she said. "So for me, it was like coming into a foreign country.
"Bill was teacher, friend, ally - even at times when, to be frank, it was difficult, I'm sure."
Because of her "frequent tension" with then-Police Commissioner Frank L. Rizzo, Mr. Fidati "could have easily run the other way."
"But he was just very protective and nurturing and made it easy for me to learn the ropes."
Mitchell noted that his mentoring even extended to "how to play cards and smoke the occasional cigar."
"He was," she said, "a wonderful man."
Even after his days as a Philadelphia reporter, Mr. Fidati could evoke a scene.
On the next-to-last day of horse racing at Garden State Park in Cherry Hill in May 2001, he told an Inquirer reporter how he appreciated the regulars there:
"There are 20, 30, 40 guys - a lot of them retirees - who have been coming here every day for, God knows, 10, 15 years.
"You walk through the stand, and it's the same faces. It is their entertainment, their theater, their casino, their escape from reality."
A 1986 report about his being hired at Garden State said Mr. Fidati had "joined the Daily News in 1962 and covered government and politics for the paper until 1970."
"He then moved to the Bulletin and worked there for more than 10 years, covering horse racing.
"Most recently," the 1986 report stated, he was "director of special events at Philadelphia Park. Before that, he served as director of communications for International Thoroughbred Breeders Inc., the owner of Garden State and Philadelphia Park."
In 1970, the Philadelphia Press Association gave Mr. Fidati its Best Reporting Award for his work as a City Hall reporter for the Daily News.
Frank Bilovsky, who covered sports with Mr. Fidati at the Bulletin, recalled that "he had an uncanny ability. . . . People wanted to tell him things - which is the greatest thing a reporter can have."
Bilovsky recalled that Mr. Fidati "also was a digger. He could really dig for a story."
But because Mr. Fidati was a "nice, soft-spoken, gentle man," Bilovsky said, his strength was "to have people tell him things that maybe they didn't want to tell him."
Born in Florence, Mr. Fidati graduated from Florence Memorial High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1957 at the University of Notre Dame.
He is survived by a sister, Louise Grieve, and nieces Denise Paykos, Donna Vivian, and Dawn Zappacosta.
A viewing was set for 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at Dennison Funeral Home, 214 W. Front St., Florence, and from 9 to 10 a.m. there Friday, July 1, before an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass at St. Mary Roman Catholic Church, 45 Crosswicks St., Bordentown, with burial in Calvary Cemetery, Florence.
Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or email@example.com.