Remembering John Fisher

From our 2009 Summer Newsletter

John W. Fisher died on June 27 after a months-long battle with leukemia. He was nearly 94 years old. Many people in Leelanau County knew John well, and can relate stories about his various passions, which included farming, manufacturing, aeronautics, and much more. He was a familiar sight at Leelanau Conservancy events. He and Janice were Sustainers and generous donors to the Leelanau Preservers program.

John Fisher provided critical early support to the Leelanau Conservancy when, in its infancy, the newly-formed organization could best take advantage of John’s endless expertise and business acumen, his incredible generosity, and his faith in the community. John understood that a conservancy takes on obligations to care for land in perpetuity, and to help fulfill that obligation, John was the first Chair of our Endowment Committee.

The backing of John Fisher, along with other giants of the summer community such as Ed Ball and Bill Elder, made possible some of the Conservancy’s earliest signature projects. I will never forget the day in late August of 1994 when John and Ed managed to track me down while my family was on vacation at a remote cabin on Lake Superior. Dick Ristine and I had traveled to Muncie earlier in the summer to pitch a plan to create the Whaleback Natural Area. After thinking carefully about our plans and no doubt polling other family members, Ed and John were calling to let me know that they had decided to make leadership gifts to our campaign for Whaleback. Without that commitment, the Whaleback Natural Area would not be here today.

John Fisher played a critical role in other projects as well, such as doubling the size of Bartholomew Park on North Lake Leelanau. For over two decades, and in many different ways big and small, John Fisher contributed to the success of the Leelanau Conservancy. A memorial reception in his honor is planned for August 12 in Leland.—Brian Price.

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