Jeffrey Austin Fisher, 24, born Nov. 26, 1988, in Onslow County, went home to be with his heavenly father at 7:05 a.m. Oct. 24, 2013, at his Swansboro home surrounded by family and friends. He is survived by his parents, Robert Lee Fisher Jr., and Debbie Tolin Fisher; his younger sister, Julia Caroline Fisher; his maternal grandparents, Wade and Carol Moore Tolin of Florence, S.C.; his paternal grandmother, Linda Bowen Fisher of Deltona, Fla.; and his beloved aunts, uncles, cousins, and his dog Mason. He is preceded in death by his grandfather, Robert Lee Fisher Sr.
A native of Swansboro, Jeff attended Swansboro First Baptist Church and graduated from Swansboro High School in 2007, where he excelled athletically, playing both soccer and football where he was the kicker and center. His extracurricular activities included roles in the school musicals and participation in the Cares and Shares food drive. Because of his gregarious personality, his peers voted Jeff "Most Popular" senior superlative.
On Oct. 19, 2010, Jeffrey was diagnosed with Stage III Anaplastic Astrocytoma, a type of malignant brain tumor. When originally diagnosed, Jeff was given mere months to live. After three years, hundreds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, experimental procedures and grueling surgeries, Jeff lost his fight to brain cancer. Top oncologists worldwide have studied his case, helping to advance the treatment of this disease and improving the survival rate of those diagnosed after him.
In college, Jeff was the Education Chair of his Lamda Chi Alpha fraternity where his proclivity for community service was fueled, and this would become a major focus of both his education and career choices. During his college career, he served as a research assistant with the
and for the Sociology Department Chair, Dr. Marieke Van Willigen, and was an intern at the McConnell-Raab
in Greenville. Jeff's drive has always been inspiring but became most evident when he completed the top item on his bucket list-graduating with his bachelor's degree in Sociology from ECU-despite being on chemotherapy. As he was diagnosed during his junior year at college, his goal was temporarily derailed, but Jeff was insistent on finishing what he had started. After taking online classes with a supportive faculty behind him, Jeff was awarded his degree at a surprise ceremony hosted by the Swansboro Rotary Club in November, 2012. At his graduation, Jeff was recognized as the ECU Melvin J. Williams Education Enhancement Award recipient, an award given to a student that enhances the classroom experience for others through his/her own comprehensive understanding of the subject.
At the start of his fight with cancer, Jeff started a movement called FISHSTRONG, which he defined as "the state of fearlessness in the face of insurmountable odds." He used this as a platform to reach out and help others. Despite the fact that his life was cut short, the positive impact Jeff had is profound and far-reaching. With his inspiring strength and indomitable positive attitude, he has become known for his heroism as people proudly wear the FISHSTRONG logo not only throughout the eastern Carolina towns of Swansboro and Greenville but also abroad in Sweden, Amsterdam, Colombia, Peru, Belize and Fiji. Jeff's FISHSTRONG movement has impacted the lives of many, and in recognition of this, he was recently honored by the Swansboro Rotary Club as the recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow Award of Service to Others. Those that know Jeff repeatedly admire his altruism and strength of character as well as for his ability to mobilize such a diverse group of people and inspire them to come together in solidarity as one large family connected by their love of Jeff.
The family would like to thank the doctors and staff at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke and at the Proton Radiation Department and Pediatric Neurosurgery at Massachusetts General in Boston, the Rob Clinic in Morehead City, the nurses at Carteret General Hospital and the Health and Home Hospice of Onslow County for their excellent care and compassion. The family would also like to sincerely thank his family, his many special friends, Lamda Chi Alpha of ECU, his caregivers, the community and all who helped support him in his fight.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27 at the Masonic Lodge (also known as the Octagon House) located at 301 Masonic Avenue Cedar Point, NC 28584. Services will be conducted by Dr. Larry Harper of Swansboro First Baptist Church.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to The
in Greenville, NC located at 930-A Wellness Drive Greenville, NC 27823. Please specify that donations are made in honor of Jeffrey Austin Fisher.
In his memoir, Jeff said it best, "If you can control your fear, you can also help those surrounding you control their fears. Throughout my experiences with cancer, I relied on my fears to motivate me to take control of what I could, mostly my emotions. I realized that life was never meant to be perfect. I realized that if this were the journey that I had to take, I would do it with a smile on my face, while opening myself up to the love and support of family and friends, and allowing them to re-motivate me. If I were to die today, with my last thought I would know that this journey is one that I am proud to have experienced. My life thus far has been a unique experience that I am proud to have lived. What a journey my life has been."
Arrangements have been made by Jones Funeral Home.