Lasting Memories

Phyllis Fisher
1919-May 3, 2009
Atherton, California

Phyllis Kahn Fisher, a resident of Atherton for 47 years, died peacefully at home surrounded by her family. She was 90.

Born in Oakland, Ms. Fisher was a fifth-generation Californian and a descendant of a pioneer California family. Her great-grandmother was Cordelia de Young, sister of Michael de Young, the founder of the San Francisco Chronicle and the de Young Museum.

Ms. Fisher graduated from Lowell High School and UC Berkeley, where she persuaded the university president to establish the school's first course on race relations. She married Leon Harold Fisher in December 1941, and earned a certificate at UC Berkeley's School of Social Welfare in 1942. During World War II, the Fishers lived in Los Alamos, where Mr. Fisher, a physicist, worked on the development of the atomic bomb. The Fishers later moved to New Jersey, where Ms. Fisher was active in the National Council of Jewish Women. The family moved to California in 1961.

After a successful battle against breast cancer in 1963, Ms. Fisher returned to graduate school and completed her master's degree in social welfare in 1965. She worked as a psychiatric social worker at the Children's Health Council in Palo Alto for 13 years.

From 1979 to 1982, she lived in Tokyo with her husband, working in the International School of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo as a counselor and teacher. She lectured in many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan and India.

While living in Japan, she met survivors and the children of survivors of the atomic bomb, and visited the Peace Park in Hiroshima. These experiences led her to publish letters she wrote from Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project, resulting in the book, "Los Alamos Experience" (1985). Her book has been translated into Japanese, as well as other languages.

After returning to California, she continued in private practice for several years. In retirement, she was a leader in the senior division of the Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto.

Ms. Fisher had a love of classical music and nature, say family members. An excellent swimmer, she taught swim lessons. She played the piano and sang with the New York Oratorio Society, with many performances at Carnegie Hall.

She is survived by her husband of 67 years, Leon Harold Fisher; children Robert Alan Fisher of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Lawrence Edgar Fisher of Oak Park, Illinois, Carol Lee Fisher Slotnick of Los Altos, and David Bruce Fisher of Saratoga; sister Shirley Rosenberg of San Mateo; and eight grandchildren.