Cookin', Critters and Chillun

‘Salem born, Salem bred’ Dr. Fisher honored

A room full of fans, friends and family turned out to honor “Mr. Salem,” Dr. Dick Fisher, praising the man who set broken bones and saved Salem history.

A room full of fans, friends and family turned out to honor “Mr. Salem,” Dr. Dick Fisher, praising the man who set broken bones and saved Salem history.

Contemporaries Dr. Dick Fisher, left, and Luke Waldrop exchange remembrances at a surprise celebration at Salem Terrace for Dr. Fisher's 90th birthday and the 30th anniversary of the Salem Educational Foundation he founded. Photo by Meg Hibbert
Contemporaries Dr. Dick Fisher, left, and Luke Waldrop exchange remembrances at a surprise celebration at Salem Terrace for Dr. Fisher’s 90th birthday and the 30th anniversary of the Salem Educational Foundation he founded. Photo by Meg Hibbert

Dr. Fisher, who turns 90 on Nov. 17, was honored Nov. 1 with a combination surprise birthday party and celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Salem Educational Foundation he founded. The event was at Salem Terrace where Fisher is now living.

“This is unbelievable,” he said as he came into the gathering of about 75 people. Flanked by his wife, Helen, and Gwynn, one of his five children, Fisher frequently smiled, clapped and gave thumbs-up signs to the speakers.

Ninth District Congressman Morgan Griffith led off the praises, recalling that Dr. Fisher told him years ago, “You ought to run for office some day.”

“He had faith in Salem,” Griffith said. “There are thousands of people out there that owe you a debt of gratitude for that encouragement” to them. Griffith added that Fisher “cast a long shadow for Salem and for institutions all over Southwest Virginia,” when it came to setting the example of an educational foundation that has endowed millions of dollars in scholarships for Salem High School students in the 30 years since the foundation was started.

Salem Times-Register Sports Editor Brian Hoffman, who nominated Fisher for Roanoke College’s Charles Brown Award for service several years ago, said “A lot of people got interested in hockey because of his efforts. He always had lots of good ideas. He told me one time Salem should put a hotel across from Salem Stadium…for Virginia Tech players’ families to stay…” Hoffman added, “You’ve been a wonderful friend to all.”

Circuit Court Clerk Chance Crawford, who performed the marriage ceremony for Fisher and his second wife, Helen, in 2005, said “I feel like I’m one of your sons…You were fighting for me on that operating table in 1980 when I got hurt (paralyzed after a play at a Salem High School football game). You told the doctor, ‘Leave the boy some hair,’ when they were putting on the halo device.”
“You’ve made Salem what Salem is,” Crawford concluded, and Fisher gave him two thumbs up.

Salem Museum Director John Long gave an overview of Fisher’s family, and noted that the retired orthopedist “was one of only seven people to receive the James Simpson Award,” named after the founder of Salem who subdivided the land grant given to Gen. Andrew Lewis. “The history of Salem is in much better shape because of you.”

Dr. Fisher taught me just about everything I first knew about Gen. Andrew Lewis and the part he played in the history of the colony of Virginia. Recently, when my husband and I were on a ghost walk in Charleston, S.C., I stopped to read a plaque on a statue of George Washington – a contemporary and friend of Gen. Lewis – and told the guide, “But it doesn’t say anything about Gen. Andrew Lewis,” and then gave him a 1-minute history of the general.

Thanks, Dr. Fisher. Generations of Salem children – and others who moved here – know a lot more about heroes because of you.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Thank you for supporting local journalism. Please enjoy four free articles per month.

Subscribe | Login