Jerome "Jerry" Michael
December 11, 1920 ~ November 9, 2020 (age 99)
Jerome “Jerry” Michael Fisher, beloved husband, father, and grandfather,
passed away peacefully at home on November 9, 2020, at the age of 99.
Jerry was born on December 11, 1920 to Philip Fisher and Anna (Blaska)
Fisher on a farm in Columbus, Wisconsin. 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 United States 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.”
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 August 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
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, New Jersey. He
graduated at the top of his class from the Navy Supply Corp School. He
married Helen Roth on August 17, 1951 in Washington D.C. They had one
child, Jennifer, born on November 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 August 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 Badger and Packer 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
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. Combined 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
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, Wisconsin; Dianne Fisher of Madison,
Wisconsin; Michael (Jody) Fisher of Madison, Wisconsin; Bryant (Kari)
Fisher of Verona, Wisconsin; and Byron (Sara) Fisher of Madison,
Wisconsin; 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
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, November 14, 2020
at 11:00am at St. Peter Catholic Church, 5001 N. Sherman Ave. in
Madison. A visitation will begin at 10:00am. Burial will immediately
follow at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Madison.