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Marvin Fisher (1927-2020)

in memoriam

Marvin Fisher

William 'Wonderful' Jenkins

accents on english

Newsletter of the Department of English
at Arizona State University

Fall 2019-Spring 2020
Volume 23

Screenshot of the late ASU emeritus professor Marvin Fisher, from an ASU Retirees Association video.Emeritus Professor Marvin Fisher passed away at home in January 2020. Fisher was a longtime faculty member of ASU English (36 years) and also a former department chair. He received several Fulbright awards for study and research abroad in Greece, Norway, and Germany. He is the namesake for English’s Marvin Fisher Book Award for international students, which was established in his honor by English chair Wendy Wilkins in the 1990s.

Fisher first came to ASU "on the hottest day of July" in 1958. In a video produced by the ASU Retirees Association in 2007, he humorously shared how he arrived via the Salt River Canyon and lived in Victory Village. "I called AAA to get the best routing. Whoever put me through the Salt River Canyon did not know what that route entailed," he said with a wry grin.

As luck would have it, Fisher had begun his trip with a gallon of iced lemonade, which he proceeded to refill with plain water every stop he made. Soon, the drink was really just lemon-flavored water—all the better to cool off a hot engine. "I wouldn't have gotten through that canyon if I hadn't been able to use that jug to pour into the radiator," he said. "Salt River Canyon was the last gasp for that car."

Former students remember Fisher fondly, calling him a "wonderful person" and cherished mentor whose "valued opinion" was sought on many an occasion. 

Fisher was also the donor of a historic collection of photographs to ASU's Hayden Library. The Marvin Fisher Collection is comprised of more than 130 historic photographs from Poland, a collection which originally belonged to his mother. 

Fisher stayed connected to ASU and to the Department of English over the years, giving a lecture in 2007 as part of the department's Emeritus Colloquium Series and attending other events and celebrations as he was able.

A graveside service was held on January 16 at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix and a celebration of life was held at Fisher's home on Saturday, January 18.

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

Image: Marvin Fisher laughs as he tells the story of his arrival in Tempe via the Salt River Canyon. Screenshot from ASU Retirees Association video. Full interview housed in ASU's Digital Repository.