When I walk the farm of my great-great-grandmother Martha, I do sense her echoes, but I’m often aware of nearer echoes, those of my father, Eugene “Gene” Fisher, who tended this place longer than anyone else in the family. It’s his birthday tomorrow, February 24, and I offer this tribute to him.
I think of his intense drive to make the farm everything it could be. A graduate of Oregon State College (now Oregon State University), he wanted to make it a model farm, always following the latest science. The photo to the left shows him the year he graduated.
He bought the farm from his great-uncle Cap, Martha’s son, that purchase keeping the land in the family. He expanded Cap’s prune orchards, updated the prune drying operation, managed timber as it became a crop, and bought more of the adjacent land.
Even while he focused on his farm, he found time to help others. He wanted his children to have a better education than he had, so he joined the school board and eventually served on school boards at every level from the local to the national. President Dwight Eisenhower appointed him to a special White House Conference on Education. Governor Mark Hatfield appointed him to the Oregon State Board of Education, where he served for fifteen years, including four years as chairman.
The photo at left shows him enjoying a light moment at one of those meetings.
He also served on farm boards and in the Grange and more. In recognition of all this he received the Oregon State University Distinguished Service Award, one of the university’s highest honors, which he accepted at their 1985 spring commencement exercises in full robed regalia, shown (at the center) below.
He was listed in the Oregon 4-H Hall of Fame and, exciting to him in his late years, was named Tree Farmer of the Year in Douglas County–twice. The last photo shows him enjoying his cathedral of trees in those late years.
Photo by Robin Loznak
He fully believed he should leave the world a better place than he found it. A special man. Handsome, he had a certain grace about him, the way he walked and moved. Like other Maupins, he sat a horse as if one with the animal. That special aura seems to permeate the farm he loved.
When I tramp over his mountain and work in his orchards, I sense him, watching and nodding, sometimes shaking his head.
Martha would be proud of him. I miss him.