Hugh Fleischer
Hugh William Fleischer, surrounded by his loving and beloved family, died October 9, 2013, from ALS. Hugh spent his life fighting for justice, fairness and equality for all people.

Hugh was born in Riverside, CA, August 14, 1938, to Helen Marie Bendorf Fleischer and Frederick John Fleischer. He moved to St. Louis, his parents' hometown, before he was a year old and grew up there, where he met his future wife, Lanie, in high school.

Hugh was a people's advocate since his undergraduate days at Washington University in St. Louis, where, as co-chair of the Campus Y he led that organization to the 1960 Chancellor's Award for its work on behalf of civil rights (equality in public accommodations) and disadvantaged youth.

After graduating 2nd in his class from Denver University Law School in 1964, Hugh served in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, working from 1964 to 1971 in the American South for voting rights, equal access to education, employment and public accommodations, as well as school desegregation cases in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas. He received a "Sustained Superior Performance Award" from U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark in 1967, and he received a "Special Commendation for Outstanding Service in the Civil Rights Division" in 1968.

Hugh came to Alaska in 1971 to work with Alaska Legal Services on the pending Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act; afterward he worked with Native groups to help secure their rights within the context of the Settlement Act. From the moment he arrived, Hugh enthusiastically embraced everything about Alaska. He was proud of the fact that during his tenure with Alaska Legal Services and later, in private practice, he was able to work with villages in remote areas of the State. On behalf of Anaktuvik Pass, he argued against opening the North Slope Haul Road without protection for subsistence rights.

Since 1973, Hugh engaged in private civil law practice and in criminal defense. He worked with the Alaska Bar Association's Pro-Bono Program, representing many clients before various Alaska courts. For many years Hugh served as a public service lawyer for indigents appearing in federal courts as a Criminal Justice Act Alaska representative. His work on behalf of the disadvantaged and powerless was a continuing inspiration to those who worked with him, and those who knew him.

Hugh contributed consistently and meaningfully to the quality of life in Anchorage and Alaska. He was a founder, in 1974, of the volunteer Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG) which works in consumer advocacy and citizens' rights. In 1996 he helped to found Alaskans Against the Death Penalty, which continues to work to educate Alaskans on the past discriminatory record of executions in Alaska. He was a volunteer at KSKA Public Radio in Anchorage, playing classical music every other Saturday morning for 10 years. He was also on the boards of: Friends of the Library, Planned Parenthood, Out North, Alaska's Independent Blind, Cyrano's Theater, and most recently, on the Board of Trustees for the Senior Activities Center. He traveled to Washington, D.C, to protest gun violence. For ten years he was a Compeer, a program that matches adults with mentally challenged people for activities and friendship - for example, he took the same man to lunch almost every Friday for more than ten years. In the 1970s he worked with other community leaders on the Committee for Two Newspapers to keep the Anchorage Daily News viable until a purchaser could be found.

Hugh received an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2008 in recognition of his civic achievements and contributions to Alaska. He received the Charlie Parr Lifetime Achievement Award from the ACLU of Alaska in 2010.

Hugh was famous for his huge tossed salads, love of good wine, a good party, dancing in the kitchen, his large book and music collection, and the pride and love he had for his children and grandchildren. He walked or biked to work, regardless of weather and was an enthusiastic skiing and hiking leader for his children and the many neighborhood kids who accompanied them. Many of those kids now credit Hugh for their continuing love of the outdoors.

Hugh is survived by his wife and soul mate of 53 years, Lanie Fleischer; his three children: daughters Robin Niemuth (Randy) and Erin Fleischer {Herzog}; son Ian William Fleischer (Kathy); Mike Herzog former son-in-law; five grandchildren: Nora, Margot and Satchel Herzog, Owen and Theo Fleischer; cousins Karen & Mel Lauer, Christopher Lauer and Katie Lauer. He leaves behind a vast patchwork of family, friends and acquaintances who loved him and stood with him in the unfinished campaign to give everyone a fair shake in the eyes of the law and who will miss him deeply.

A Memorial Service celebrating Hugh's life will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, at 5 p.m. at the Dena'ina Center with a pot luck reception following at the Anchorage Senior Activities Center.

Donations in Hugh's memory may be made to any of the myriad causes to which he devoted his time or any cause that one finds meaningful.

Published by Anchorage Daily News from Oct. 15 to Oct. 16, 2013.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Sponsored by Hugh's loving family.
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60 Entries
I was just reminded by the Legacy site that it is coming close to the anniversary of Hugh's death. I frequently recall him, in all sorts of contexts. When I see a person in a leadership role doing it gracefully, compassionately, considerately. When I think of balsamic vinegar, because he and Lanie and we shared a love of that condiment. When I meet Lanie in the community, at a grocery store or, better yet, at the Sitka Music Festival concert, where I reminded her of the time she and Hugh arrived in the nick of time for the performance, propping their cross-country skis outside the door and carefully clumping across the floor in their ski-ing boots. A man who was beloved is also well-remembered. Hugh's legacy is the example he set, just by being the good person he was. Always missed.
Jocelyn Paine
October 9, 2019
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
Carol Karlin
May 21, 2017
Any day is a good day to remember Hugh! Thinking of you too Lanie.
Jerry Wertzbaugher
November 15, 2015
Lanie, reread these wonderful words left by all of us. It lifted my spirits and reminded me of the purpose we hold for life. So good to read again, so good to have known Hugh, so good to know you.

Much love from us both, Jay and Gene

Jacob and Eugene Dugan-Brause, London
November 15, 2015
Hugh embodied the best qualities of those who keep democracy from dying: a strong sense of justice and decency, and an unrelenting hope that others would work with him to strengthen democracy. Hugh enriched life in a multitude of ways for everyone in Alaska.
Beverly & Ed Isenson
December 8, 2013
On Thanksgiving, I've been reflecting, as most of us do. I perused the many letters of recognition and condolence, and was reassured of the truth, 'that a man does not die while his name continues to be said by others.' Hugh Fleischer has earned himself a long life.
Myron Rosenberg
November 29, 2013
Hugh inspired me to give back to our community. He chaired the Anchorage Library board one year when I volunteered as the co-ordinator of Friday Night Flicks, and I never saw the board get along so well nor get so much work done. He set such a good example and gently steered contentious board members in the right direction. Lanie, you and Hugh introduced me to balsamic vinegar way back when over one of his lovely tossed salads with, if I remember, lettuces from your garden. I've never used any other kind of vinegar since, ironic, because Hugh's character was so sweet. Each time we met, often at a concert, he was smiling. He was generous with his time, attention, and spirit. A good person lives on in his—or, Lanie, her—children. Hugh lives on in all of our good memories.
Jocelyn Paine-Everett
November 28, 2013
We here in St. Louis benefitted personally and professionally when the Fleischer family spent a year in St. Louis in the early 1970's. The work of the Legal Aid Society as it was known then was enormously enhanced by Hugh's skills and mentoring. Such a joy to have known him and Lanie and his death is such a loss. He inspired so many social justice workers.
David Lander
November 25, 2013
Living in Alaska for thirty-one years, I have not known a man for whom I had more respect and admiration, not just for the many people and causes that he, so stalwartly and righteously, represented, but for his genuine decency. He seemed to always have a good word and a smile for you. Hugh Fleischer was, simply, a very good man. I will miss him and never ever forget him. My most sincere condolences to Lanie, his family and many friends.
Myron Rosenberg
November 6, 2013
Lanie and family,

I wanted to add to my last entry since I just learned of Hugh's death this morning. I will always remember him for his passion for social justice, his compassion for others and his love of life. People like Hugh just don't come along every day and I was fortunate that our paths crossed for the time that they did. I remember his stories of Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King as well as Larry Flynt and Jewel. When we were in New Orleans together, he talked about knowing Harry Connick, Sr. and his personal knowledge of Jim Garrison and the aftermath of JFK's assassination. He was a living history book and cherished the opportunity to share his stories. My favorite was hearing about his duties in 1971 during the March on Washington and being giving his assignment by John Dean--causing him to quit the Department of Justice.

Hugh never ceased to amaze me with his activities--from founding AKPIRG to Alaskans Against the Death Penalty to the Anchorage Symphony.

I still have a photo of the Alaskan Highway displayed on my book shelves that Hugh purchased for me on a road trip. And I have several Birdsall paintings (You and Hugh introduced me to Byron Birdsall at one of the many gatherings at your home) including one of your living room.

While we didn't stay in touch over the past few years, I will always remember his many kindnesses to me and think of him fondly. My heart goes out to all of you.

Love, Janet
Janet Wallach
November 6, 2013
Lanie, Robin, Erin, Ian and all of the rest of the family and friends who knew and loved Hugh, my heart and thoughts are with you. The world has lost a remarkable man and left a void that will not be replaced. Love from New Jersey, Janet
Janet Wallach
November 6, 2013
The previous accolades and memories tell it all. We feel blessed to have known Hugh from Civil Rights Division days on. We woo always remember our wonderful visit with Hugh , Lanier and family when Gerta, john's Mom and we we're able to stop by during our Alaska cruise., and Hugh showing us his office, Anchorage highlights,etc.Hugh was just a wonderful human being! We send out love and condolences! John and Jean Rosenberg
John and Jean Rosenberg
November 5, 2013
Lanie and family,
I know your loss is beyond words, and I can only feel a tiny portion of it, but I'm sure you know that a very large community shares in this with you and we're here to support you in any way we can. Hugh is the ultimate role model, and I feel honored to have known him.
November 5, 2013
Family and friends

Today marks a day (Nov 5) we so wish we could join with the people who loved Hugh.

Lanie, there are days we are pulled back to the life we left so painfully 7 years ago. Hugh, you and your times lovingly supported so much, not least, the good work of Out North.

We add our voices to witness a life well-lived, to Hugh's joy and a legacy we strive to attain -- to our world made better by determination, intelligence and deep love of people.

As one of many transplanted to Alaska, he is one who will forever be a native son.

Blessing on your house, from London

Jacob and Eugene Dugan-Brause
November 4, 2013
Lanie and family,
I was so, so sad to hear the news. He was a truly wonderful man who's legacy will live on.
Amy Vaudreuil
November 1, 2013
To: Hugh's Lanie and children,

Please accept my deepest condolences as well as those from my son, Jon. Hugh was a dear, kind and patient man and represented his clients in the very best way possible.
My thoughts and prayers to all of you at this most difficult time.
Warmest regards,
Noel Ululani Woodard
Noel Ululani Woodard
October 31, 2013
Dear Lanie and family. I was so saddened to hear of Hugh's passing. I so remember meeting you both back in 1974 when we first moved to Anchorage. Hugh's warmth and smiles were so welcoming and reassuring. I know Jack always respected and valued Hugh and now together , Hugh and Jack can bike and fly with the Angels. what an amazing family you are. Hugh accomplished so much in his life !! Family and friends will help you through these days ahead. Love,
Tricia Fyfe Lillibridge
Homer, Alaska
Tricia Fyfe - Lillibridge
October 30, 2013
Dear Erin, Lanie, Robin, Ian and Mike:
I am so very sorry to hear of Hugh's passing... he was a vibrant, lovely man. I know you will miss him terribly.
Tracy Lawrence
October 30, 2013
Dear Lanie,
We are so sorry to hear of your loss. Please accept our condolences to you and your family.
Waltraud, Sandy & Corrina Barron
Waltraud Barron
October 24, 2013
I served with Hugh in the Civil Rights Division in the mid-60s. I have had the good fortune of working with many brilliant lawyers in the Justice Department, on Capitol Hill and in private practice. No other lawyer was as important a mentor to me as was Hugh.
Larry Ross
October 23, 2013
I was so sad to here of Hugh's passing. I remember when I was directing plays at the Senior Center. He was so witty, patient and caring towards everyone in the cast. I was honored to call him friend and loved conversing with him. I always learned something new or looked at things differently afterwards. And of course the salads! Your home was always a calming place for me. Thank you for sharing him with all of us.
Richard Benavides
October 23, 2013
Lanie and Family:

I am so very sorry to hear of Hugh's passing. I had the privilege of being his secretary and being schooled by the best. I had the honor of working with him during his fight regarding Laetrile and when he and AkPIRG brought Robert Redford to Anchorage for the Alaska premiere of "All The President's Men" -- what a night that was. He was a class act, always fighting the good fight, and I was forever changed by his gentle but firm passion and resolve. My sincere condolences.
Penny Trow-Foreman
October 23, 2013
Lanie and family, my condolences and best wishes to you. While I knew Hugh only a little, I knew he was as amazing as your friends that I knew so much better, Karen and so many others. He is now free from his suffering and with you in spirit. Terry Dale.
October 20, 2013
You gave me a gift of a new start back in 1998. I will never forget that. Thank you soooo much. It was an honor to know you. May you rest in peace in the loving arms of Jesus.
Marla Mosher
October 18, 2013
Lanie ,Family and Friends,
I am sorry for your loss and you all are in my prayers. I met Hugh at Alaska Workers Association, where he was giving of his time to explain parts of the law to low-income folks; he was a good man.
Lance and Whitney Powell
lance powell
October 18, 2013
So sorry, My daughter Mieke loved you and always spoke very highly of you and your family. Peace be with you, I give you my peace! Jacob ter Poorten
October 18, 2013
What a fantastic person that Hugh Fleischer was, and what a loss with him now gone. He did more in one lifetime than most and I am sure he had more friends than most. Mr. Fleischer was intelligent, kind, fun and witty...Such a unique guy. I will always remember him on his bike riding even in the snow. And his giant wooden salad bowl that looked like a canoe. He would say, "Now wait we can only wipe it out! No soap and water or it will lose it's flavor." Best salads ever! I use to love walking into Hugh and Lanie's home when I was a young girl with Robin, and hearing their music playing and seeing all the artwork hanging on the walls. Every time I went to their house I always learned something new and interesting that Hugh would most certainly "school" me on, or meet someone new and Ralph Nader. The second you stepped into their home you knew you were in a special loving house, made that way by two wonderful and interesting people. Some great memories! Time will make it hurt less Mrs. Fleischer. Be happy and carry on Lanie, just as he would want and expect you to live your life.
Michelle Condor
October 17, 2013
Hugh was one of the most decent and vital human beings I have ever known, the kind of person it just made you feel good to be around. Lanie, Robin, Erin and Ian, please accept my deepest sympathies.
Peter Gruenstein
October 17, 2013
Hugh Fleischer was a sweetheart of a man with a huge appetite for all the good in life. He was always a joy to be with. I will miss him forever.
Molly Crenshaw
October 17, 2013
I'll always remember Hugh buying gas at Texaco, and then ALWAYS taking time to personally thank the attendant for their support of the then Texaco Met Opera broadcasts. Classic Hugh. He kept us smiling. One of a kind.
Jeremy Seftor and Pat Angevine
October 17, 2013
Robin, and the whole Fleischer family- I was in school with Robin at Steller and remember your parents well- your dad always had the most amazing smile and warm spirit. I wish you all peace and many happy memories.
Sue Post
October 17, 2013
I am so sorry to hear about your family's loss. He leaves such a legacy and I know he will be missed by many.
Diane Blakey
October 16, 2013
Meeting Hugh, many years ago at a Native function, was a highlight of my life. Since that time, he has acted as my attorney and I came to know him for his integrity and caring for all people. He was so personable, I don't think he ever met a stranger! When he argued a point, it was easy to see his point and end up agreeing with him. He will be greatly missed and his legacy of caring will be remembered forever. If you were his friend, you knew it would be for life. Lanie, Robin and Randy, Erin and Ian, thank you for sharing him with the world. He was an incredible man. I know you have been left with many wonderful memories! He will be remembered with fondness by our family.
Mary Wolcoff
October 16, 2013
Aretha Romero
October 16, 2013
My heart hurt when I heard Hugh passed but I am happy to have had the pleasure and opportunity to get to know him. I enjoyed working with him very much and I admired him a great deal. He was just one of the best human beings I have ever known. My heart goes out to Lanie and his family. I know his presence will be missed by many.
Aretha Romero
October 16, 2013
Dear Lanie & Family,
You are in our thoughts as we share in your loss. Hugh was a valued friend and neighbor during our 42 years in Alaska. He will be missed but lives on with us in our memories. We send our love from afar.
Gene & Joette Storm
October 16, 2013
My prayers and thoughts are with you and the family.
Doug Kimzey
October 16, 2013
I was sad to hear that Hugh had passed away. Hugh would stop by my wine store and buy a great bottle of wine. He was always so sweet. I admired how active he was. His kindness will always be remembered.
Terri Potter
October 15, 2013
All my love to Hugh's huge company of family and friends. Such an incredible man. I am honored to have known him.
Ron Holmstrom
October 15, 2013
Hugh Fleischer...what a man. He and his lifelong partner Lanie are the type of people I hope to be when I grow up; curious, worldly-wise, global citizens. Their children emulate their civic-minded consciousness and awareness of the importance of everyone's place in the world; I hope to instill that same awareness and importance in my family.
My love and thanks go out to Hugh's family. He made a difference for me - in the best way possible. I love you all.
kate begonia
October 15, 2013
Lanie, my prayers are with you and your family. Hough was a wonderful man.
Les Pate
Lester Pate
October 15, 2013
Please accept our condolences. My father had ALS but died of heart failure before the ALS symptoms progressed. May you find comfort in knowing Hugh is at peace with God now. We have fond memories of Hugh and your 50th anniversary celebration.
Diane Sallee
October 15, 2013
Robin and family I was so sorry to read about your father. Hugs to your Mom and keep all the good memories.
Betty Shellhamer
October 15, 2013
Peace and comfort to you, Lanie. Thank you, Hugh, for making a difference on this earth.
Chris and Carol McNeese
October 15, 2013
Hugh Fleisher was "our guy in New Orleans" in the mid-sixties. He successfully desegregated schools in Plaquemine Parrish (run by Leander Perez), enforced the Voting Rights Act in Louisiana, and offered hospitality to dozens of lawyers from the Civil Rights Division (including me). He and Lanie were our best friends in New Orleans. Hugh was a hero before he ever went to Alaska.

May he rest in peace.
Former Deputy Assistant Attoney General for Civil Rights
October 15, 2013
Thank You Hugh for always seeing the good in people, especially me.
Karen Vezina
October 15, 2013
He contributed greatly to the lives of people in Alaska. We all thank you.
Dr. Janet Moyer, now living in So. Calif.
October 15, 2013
Lanie and Family:
We were very saddened to read about Hugh's passing. He was sick for so long and in great pain. Now, he is at rest.
We will send a Mass card in Hugh's name.
Sincere condolences,
Tom and Theresa Obermeyer
Thomas, Jimmy, Margaret, and Matt
Tom and Theresa Obermeyer
October 15, 2013
I was the Fleischer family paperboy in the mid 1970s and remember Hugh always riding his bike on 11th Avenue, always smiling and happy, with a highly admirable family. I have been gone for 32 years and didn't know of Hugh's legal prominence and contribution to Alaskan society. May his memory be blessed.
Adam Ruskin
October 15, 2013
Rest in peace Hugh Fleischer. Your mellifluous dulcitones and always-cheery disposition will resonate in my heart always. The world has lost a true gentleman. I wish warm blessings and comfort to the Fleischer Family.
Timothy Carmichael
October 15, 2013
Hugh was my friend and colleague. We began as office mates at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Dept. Of Justice in D.C. As lawyers we fought race discrimination in the Southern U.S. with much success in the areas of voting, public accommodations, school desegregation, and housing. Hugh was fond of observing that he left government service because of three words: Richard Milhaus Nixon. Hugh would not tolerate a Pres.negotiating with Southern politicians to compromise constitutional rights of minorities. Hugh was like a brother to me. I will carry my memories of him, Lanie, and his beloved children and grandchildren to my grave.

Ray Terry
Memphis, TN
Ray Terry
October 15, 2013
I feel privileged to have known Hugh. My heart goes out to Lanie for her great loss.
We will be unable to attend the Celebration of Life on November 5, but will be there in spirit with the wonderful community that Hugh & Lanie built here in Anchorage.
Jerry Wertzbaugher
October 15, 2013
Hugh was a great man who leaves Alaska his legacy of giving to great causes. My thoughts are with his amazing family - another great gift to us all.
Jason Dinneen
October 15, 2013
Lanie, we are so sad to learn of Hugh' departure from your life. His enthusiastic embrace of justice for all and his capacity for joy and love is a magnificent legacy. He will be missed and remembered.

Fred Jenkins and Susan Haines, Trail, OR
Fred and Susan Haines/ Jenkins
October 15, 2013
Hugh was a wonderful man and a true force of nature. He took up the most challenging of causes, but his passion never wavered and he never became cynical. By keeping his own light burning for justice over the years, he helped illuminate the way and sustain the light of many, many others who followed him. That gift may be his most lasting and affecting legacy. Hugh will be sorely missed.
Jeff Feldman
October 15, 2013
Hugh was a great person and I was lucky to have worked with him for many years at AkPIRG. He was always hard-working, caring and wise. I learned a lot from him and value the great effect he has had on my life.
October 15, 2013
Hugh was an inspiration and a true gentleman. My deepest condolences.
Shelley Chaffin
October 15, 2013
Your dedication to the needs of Alaskans will be long remembered.
Carol DeVoe
October 15, 2013
I am so sorry - Hugh was a guiding light and inspiration for us all. He will be missed. Lanie, you have my deepest sympathy and concern.
Penny Zobel
October 15, 2013
My deepest sympathies, Hugh was an inspiring man and made our community a better place through his many gifts of time and effort. He will be remembered.
Steve Gonzalez
October 15, 2013
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