MISSOULA – After 10 years apart, John Clark "Jack" Fisher was reunited in heaven with his son, John Patrick. Jack passed away peacefully on Sunday, June 23, 2013, at home in the loving care of his family.
Jack was born at home, June 26, 1936, in Waterbury, Conn. He was raised with his brother, Bill, in Manchester and Franklin, N.H.
As a young boy, Jack knew he would be a forester and live in the mountains. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in forestry in 1958. He was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. Working as a summer tour guide at Lost River in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, he knew his boyhood dream would be realized. Jack had deep affection for the White Mountains, but found true love for Northwest forests manning fire lookouts. Jack loved the solitude, peace and majesty of the Rocky Mountains.
After graduation, Jack served in the U.S. Army, then embarked on a 36-year career with U.S. Forest Service, saying he loved it every day. Joining the Forest Service in the late 1950s, Jack had a distinguished career in the Northern Region. With assignments on the Nez Perce, Bitterroot and the Lolo national forests, he held a variety of positions. Early in his career, Jack enjoyed being an effective liaison with Native American fire crews. Jack spent many years in charge of lands, special uses, range and recreation programs.
While in Thompson Falls, Jack served as president of the Lions Club, where he was chosen as Lion of the Year for work building a beautiful retirement home, and served on the local school board.
Jack assumed management for planning, permitting and administration of the 500-kilovolt Bonneville power line across public lands in the 1970s. As team leader, Jack coordinated the written plan for the power line stretching across Montana to Oregon. Jack's attention to detail and commitment to resources resulted in an environmentally sensitive location and construction techniques that became a model for future projects. Jack's work was included in forest management training and university-level classes. Purdue University invited Jack as guest lecturer on the subject.
In the late 1970s, Jack became an integral part of the Forest Planning Team. Later, he managed the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area further developing a passion for archeology, cultural resources and historic preservation. Jack's skill and expertise resulted in significant building restoration on the forest continuing into his retirement.
Jack's lead the Wild and Scenic Rivers team as his last career position. He enjoyed every aspect of it, especially the people, as they conducted a "wild and scenic" survey to determine eligibility for inclusion in the designation. He enjoyed the hiking, camping and loved being back in the mountains.
"Jack was always a 'go-to' guy who would take on any tough assignment serving the public for his entire career," said Orville Daniels.
Jack, Gary Brown and others restored the old ranger station that is the site for the National Museum of Forest Service History. There is a glass-covered viewing window showing original construction. Jack thought this was important to provide visitors a visible illustration of early construction techniques and believed we all could learn from our past and history.
Jack was a master wood craftsman, using his gifts to preserve and restore multiple Forest Service cabins, including many in Rock Creek available as rentals. He worked restoring the lookout tower taken to the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, D.C. This celebration of the U.S. Forest Service 100th anniversary was exciting. It was a huge disappointment, but his health was beginning to fail and the trip was daunting. Sadly, he stayed home. For years he devoted his incredible carpentry and artistic skills to historic cabins and other archaeological projects.
History was always a passion with Jack and he spent many enjoyable hours working on the Lewis and Clark Travelers' Rest area near Lolo. The archaeologist in charge tells of asking national experts to determine the exact expedition campsite. "Then, I did what I should have done in the first place, I asked Jack," said Dan Hall, lead archaeologist. Smoking his pipe, Jack said, "Well, if I were looking to set up camp, I would do it here." He pointed to the site – artifacts confirmed Lewis and Clark camped at that location and the site was officially established.
Jack, Orville Daniels and George Leighton spent several summers working on archaeological Passport in Time projects in the Southwest. The trio planned every detail for their trips with gourmet meals. There was no roughing it for these boys; they went first class. It was "Bon Appétit" in the desert.
In October 1989, Jack was admitted to the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, New Hampshire Society. Jack was a primary descendant of William Danforth, who served at Bunker Hill and the Siege of Boston.
Jack was deeply touched to be the recipient of two historic preservation awards. The state of Montana honored him in 2007 and Missoula County honored him in 2003. For the man always quietly working in the background, not expecting applause, these honors were treasured.
Jack met the love of his life, Jeri, in 1968, and their 45 years together was an adventure. Jack was deeply devoted to his children. During their high school years, Jack spent his weekends cheering for them at every sport and performance. His devotion extended to his daughters-in-law, Jackie and Tammi, and to his grandchildren. He took great pride in their accomplishments.
Jack was an avid Lady Griz fan; he rarely missed a home game and knew all the players by name and stats.
In 1983, Jack embarked on his greatest artistic venture building the family home. Promising Jeri it would be a six-month project; it turned into a 21-year labor of love. Jeri referred to it affectionately as the "house that Jack built." Reminded of the six-month commitment, Jack coolly responded, "I did not say which six months!" The family home is a reflection of Jack: beautiful, meticulous and strong in character. A credit to the New England Yankee craftsman who built it
Jack's parents, William B. Fisher I and Margaret Lavery Fisher; his brother, William Fisher II; and his precious son, John Patrick Fisher, predeceased Jack.
He is survived by his dearly loved wife, Jeri C. Fisher of the family home; son, Michael J. Fisher of Butte; daughters, Kelli D. Meuchel (Craig) of Kalispell and Donna Sheets (Scott) of Lewiston, Idaho; daughters-in-law, Jackie Fisher of Butte and Tammi Fisher (Don) of Kalispell; nephew, William B. "Little Bill" Fisher III, (Tammy); grandnephew, Zachery, all of Farmington, N.H.; grandnephew, Stephen (Sunni), serving in Afghanistan; grandnephew, Scott McPherson (Jolynn) of Milwaukee, Ore.; and nephew, Michael B. Fisher (Renee); daughter, Lauren; and son, Cole, all of Hampton Falls, N.H.
Jack deeply loved and took great pride in the accomplishments of his grandchildren, Bethany, Brynn, Cooper, Ashlynn, Mandi, Mary, Clay, Jack, John and Tucker; and one great-granddaughter, Khloie.
A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. July 22 at the Holt Historical Museum in Lolo. It is located just outside Lolo on 6800 U.S. Highway 12; approximately half a mile on the right.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Travelers' Rest Chapter of Lewis and Clark Trail or a charity of the donor's choice are suggested.
Read John Fisher's Obituary and Guestbook on www.missoulafuneralhomes.com.