Wife of former MU journalism dean loved playing piano, meeting people
COLUMBIA — Anne (Fallon) Fisher, the wife of former Missouri School of Journalism Dean Roy Fisher, was described by friends and family as a kind, gracious woman, a talented pianist, beloved wife and artful hostess.
Mrs. Fisher died Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. She was 92.
She was born Sept. 8, 1918, in Falkirk, Scotland, to Stephen and Margaret Fallon.
Mrs. Fisher came to the United States at the age of 5 and grew up in Providence, R.I. As an immigrant during the Great Depression, she had humble beginnings, her daughter Patty Fisher said.
During this time, Mrs. Fisher learned to play the piano, Patty Fisher said.
“She had two brothers who were band leaders,” Patty Fisher said. “The older brothers supported the family with a band that they had. They would play at all of the Irish weddings and fraternity parties at Brown.”
When Mrs. Fisher was old enough, she would play along with her brothers at family gatherings, she said.
After graduating from high school, Mrs. Fisher pursued an education as a registered nurse before becoming a flight attendant for American Airlines, she said.
“She was very successful and went into management in American Airlines," Patty Fisher said. "She was head of the stewardess school in Chicago and was on track to become a vice president when she met my father.”
Mrs. Fisher met Roy Fisher, who was then a reporter for and later was an editor for the Chicago Daily News when he offered her a ride home from the airport after a press conference, she said.
“They were so in love,” Patty Fisher said. “They were married for 50 years. I never saw them fight the whole time I was growing up. She just adored him, and he adored her.”
The Fishers, whom Patty Fisher describes as a “dashing couple,” were good dancers who loved meeting new people. Roy Fisher sang at parties while Mrs. Fisher accompanied him on the piano. The two played tennis, traveled extensively and associated with the who’s-who of the journalism world.
“They used to go sailing with Walter Cronkite and his wife,” Patty Fisher said.
During the time that her husband was dean of the School of Journalism, Mrs. Fisher frequently held parties for students, faculty members, visiting journalists and politicians at the couple’s home in Columbia, she said.
“She would just make people feel at home,” Patty Fisher said. “To this day, people will come up to me and say, ‘I was in your house in Columbia, and I remember your mother was so sweet and kind to me.’”
Daryl Moen, a journalism professor at MU, attended many of the Fishers’ parties.
“She got everybody involved and knew how to work a room,” Moen said. “She played the piano, and if any of the guests played the piano or sang, she would inevitably get them gathered around the piano and have song fests. It was just a lot of fun.”
Another MU journalism professor, George Kennedy, said Roy Fisher made substantial contributions to the journalism school through strengthening the status of the Columbia Missourian, building up the broadcast sequence and raising the money to build Gannett Hall. Moen said Mrs. Fisher played a critical role in helping her husband accomplish these things.
“I think a lot of people left with a good impression of Columbia and the school of journalism and the university because of her hospitality,” Moen said. “They made it very personal and very friendly. I think people went away from Columbia, Missouri with a good feeling because of her.”
Roy Fisher retired from his position as dean in 1981. He accepted a position as director and professor at the journalism school’s graduate program in Washington, D.C., before retiring in 1989. Fisher Auditorium was named after him before his death in 1999.
Mrs. Fisher spent the last few years of her life in Boulder, Colo., where one of her daughters lives.
Mrs. Fisher is survived by four daughters, Leslie Muir of Northbrook, Ill., Patty Fisher of Palo Alto, Calif., Mary Fisher of Boulder, Colo., and Sarah Fisher of Denver; and 11 grandchildren.
Memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at North Shore United Methodist Church, 213 Hazel Ave., Glencoe, Ill.
Memorial contributions can be made to North Shore United Methodist Church or VistaCare Hospice at www.vistacare.com.