In Memoriam

John Clark "Jack" Fisher '58
His love of the forests became his life's work.

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Working as a summer tour guide at northern New Hampshire's Lost River, Jack Fisher realized that his future lay in the solitude of woods and mountains. After graduating with a degree in forestry and serving in the Army, he headed Northwest and began a 36-year career with the U.S. Forest Service.

A Forest Service colleague, Orville Daniels, says that Fisher's Yankee work ethic made him the service's go-to guy for important jobs. In the 1970s, Fisher managed construction of the Bonneville power line stretching from Montana to Oregon. His success in completing a major undertaking while protecting the environment became a model for future projects.

He was a perfectionist at home as well. Twenty-one years after assuring his wife, Jeri, that he could build the family a new home in six months, he was still putting the final touches on it. "He told me, 'I didn't say which six months,'" she recalls.

In the late 1980s Fisher helped restore an old ranger station in Missoula, Montana, that became the National Museum of Forest Service History. He also helped restore a lookout tower for the 2005 Smithsonian Folklife Festival commemorating the U.S. Forest Service's 100th anniversary.

For five years after they retired, Fisher, Daniels, and another colleague traveled to New Mexico with the Forest Service's Passport in Time project, a volunteer archaeology and historic preservation program. They surveyed ancient Native American sites—and ate gourmet meals that Fisher prepared. Competition for positions in the program was fierce, but the men were always invited back. "We became known as 'the boys from Montana,'" says Daniels. "Three old men arriving in a pickup."

Life took Fisher far from his New Hampshire roots, but he remained a modest New Englander, says his wife. Near Lolo, Mont., he watched national experts struggle to determine the exact location of the Lewis and Clark expedition's campsite. He then quietly pointed out what, to him, seemed the only logical spot. The team soon unearthed artifacts that proved him right.

Fisher was honored with historic preservation plaques from Missoula County and from the state of Montana. It was typical of Jack, says Jeri, that he tucked a photo of himself with the Montana lieutenant governor behind one of the plaques where no one would see it.

The Fishers were married for 46 years. Jack slipped away quietly on June 23, 2013, at the age of 76. "I think," says Jeri, "that he had just decided it was time to go."

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