Fisher, Jerome Michael "Jerry"
MADISON - Jerome Michael "Jerry" Fisher, beloved husband, father, and grandfather, passed away peacefully at home on Nov. 9, 2020, at the age of 99.
Jerry was born on Dec. 11, 1920, to Philip Fisher and Anna (Blaska) Fisher on a farm in Columbus, Wis. When his father passed away in 1933, he moved to Madison with his mother and three sisters. He developed lifelong friendships while living on the near east side. He graduated from Edgewood High School in 1938. He then attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he majored in accounting.
After graduating from college, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was commissioned as a lieutenant junior grade after completing officer candidate school. He also graduated from Naval Mine Warfare School on his 23rd birthday in 1943. During World War II, he served in the Pacific theater as a gunnery officer aboard the U.S.S. YMS-47 (a mine sweeper). He fought bravely in many significant battles, including the initial sea assault on Morotai Island, the battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippine islands, the battle of Luzon in the Philippine islands, and the amphibious assault of Balik Papan, Borneo, for which the YMS-47 received the Presidential Unit Citation "for extraordinary heroism in action against enemy Japanese forces."
During this period, his mine sweeper was attacked by Kamikaze forces. During one of these attacks, he was thrown overboard into the Pacific Ocean, but survived. On Aug. 6, 1945, after the last attack had rendered the YMS-47 non-operational, Jerry was sent to Pearl Harbor. Less than two weeks later, he watched fireworks and celebrated Victory Over Japan Day.
Following his service in World War II, he continued his naval service in the naval reserves, eventually achieving the rank of lieutenant commander. During that time, he attended law school on the GI bill at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. After law school, he was called up during the Korean War and stationed in Bayonne, N.J. He graduated at the top of his class from the Navy Supply Corp School. He married Helen Roth on Aug. 17, 1951m in Washington D.C. They had one child, Jennifer, born on Nov. 9, 1953.
Upon returning to Wisconsin, he took graduate level accounting courses and passed his CPA exam on his first attempt. He also taught accounting at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater. Additionally, he and three other attorneys opened a law practice in Madison where he specialized in tax law. At the same time, he began what would be a lifelong career in designing and developing residential apartments. He started by drawing his own floor plans. He eventually expanded his dream to include developing, owning, and managing apartment communities in Wisconsin, Florida, Colorado, and Illinois.
On Aug. 23, 1963, Jerry married Ellen Marie Esch. They met in 1959 when Ellen rented an apartment in the first building Jerry built and owned in downtown Madison. They had four children: Dianne, Michael, Bryant, and Byron. As successful as he was in business, his true passion in life was his family. He adored his children and grandchildren and delighted in celebrating their achievements. From attending athletic events to encouraging their success in academics and advising them in business endeavors, he was a steadfast and positive presence in their lives.
He was also an avid Badgers and Packers football fan. He enjoyed fishing, including annual trips to Canada with his sons. He was very proud of his German heritage and would only eat German chocolate cake on his birthday.
Jerry was a well-read and passionate believer in natural medicine and applied his knowledge to improve his own well-being and the health of those he cared for. He loved to share his natural health insights with any willing ear. Among other things, he was ahead of his time in understanding the dangers of sun exposure and sugar to human health, much to the chagrin of his then young children! That said, he was known to enjoy a Snickers bar on rare occasions!
His remarkable life is the embodiment of the American dream. Despite losing his father at such a young age and coming from the humblest of beginnings, he possessed an indomitable will. Combining that will with a strong intellect, creative mind, and tireless work ethic, he persevered through difficult times and became very successful.
Despite his success, he remained extremely humble. He never forgot where he came from and how he grew up. He was also very compassionate. His generosity extended beyond his family to persons he barely knew. He set an example as a parent, friend, and businessman marked by these strong values. To know him and his story is inspirational. He was a wonderful man.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents; and his sisters, Jeanette Fisher, Ruth Kohn, and Irma Togstad.
Jerry is survived by his devoted wife of 57 years, Ellen; his children, Jennifer (David) Rice of Middleton, Wis., Dianne Fisher of Madison, Wis., Michael (Jody) Fisher of Madison, Wis., Bryant (Kari) Fisher of Verona, Wis., and Byron (Sara) Fisher of Madison, Wis.; and twelve grandchildren, Alex Rice, John (Kelsey) Rice, Eric Rice, Brianna (Alex) Parker, Tyler Piddington, Brittany Piddington, Mac Fisher, Oliver Fisher, Allie Fisher, Jenna Fisher, Camryn Fisher, and Avery Fisher.
The family would like to thank Jerry's caregivers, Peter, Ann, Austin, Brenda, Dale, Mary Lou, Chris, Wanda, Pam, Trisha, and Ashley. They bonded with him and treated him like their own father.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, at 11 a.m. at ST. PETER CATHOLIC CHURCH, 5001 N. Sherman Ave. in Madison. A visitation will begin at 10 a.m. Burial will immediately follow at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Madison.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Edgewood High School (2219 Monroe Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53711) or St. Peter Catholic Church (5001 North Sherman Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53704).
Please share your memories at www.cressfuneralservice.com.
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road, Madison