Ray Fisher never, ever met a stranger, and as one of his many friends told me, “He sure won’t meet one in Heaven.” Amen!
Our world and community have lost a giant. We lost my friend and your friend Ray W. Fisher Jr. yesterday. He passed away at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center after suffering a massive stroke last Sunday afternoon outside of his West Knox County home just as he and wife Jackie were about to take a walk with their beloved Goldendoodle, Fenway.
Rural Metro emergency responders were at his home within minutes from their Choto station. He was taken to Fort Sanders’ Stroke Center and put on life support. He never regained consciousness. Ray celebrated his 77th birthday on Aug. 16.
The mood at Fisher Tire on Kingston Pike is very subdued. Their owner and friend won’t be coming to work again, as he did last Saturday, a day before the stroke hit him. There are tears and little talk.
Ray has been an important and loved member of the Rotary Club of Farragut since he joined on Nov. 11, 2009. Rotary was only one of his loves. His family and faith were his first loves. Much of his heart was given to the Mission of Hope, to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, to Central Baptist Church Bearden and his Sunday school class, and to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Center at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. He also loved Rotary’s Youth Exchange Student program and when those foreign students needed money, Ray wrote checks – a lot of them. Most people did not know he did this. That was Ray’s way.
Ray’s next-door neighbor, Rich Levenson, was out front when Ray collapsed. “He started to go down and Jackie caught him and then I grabbed Ray and held him until the medical people arrived,” Rich said. Then his tears came. “He was the best person I’ve ever known in my life, the best neighbor and friend. There’s nobody like Ray Fisher. He was the biggest giver ever but he was never a taker.”
To this I can share two personal stories:
- At the 2020 Free Flu Shot Saturday on Sept. 19, Ray was taking clipboards and paperwork to those in their cars lined up for flu shots at Farragut High School. As he was picking up about 10 to 15 clipboards, I said to him: “Ray, slow down man. Let the younger legs handle the clipboards.” He looked up at me and said, “Hey, I feel great and I’m having fun and seeing some friends.” And away he went with the clipboards.
- One sunny day we played golf at Holston Hills Country Club. Ray was a really good golfer, a “player” as golfers say. After we had played a few holes we were walking back to the golf cart after our tee shots and he stopped and put out his right hand and shook hands with me. He grabbed my hand with both hands and said to me: “I feel so blessed …it’s such a beautiful day for golf, and I’m playing with a good buddy. Doesn’t get much better than that.” Chill bumps then and chill bumps now.
Emmett Thompson is the CEO of the Mission of Hope. Here are his words about Ray: “I was so blessed to have met Ray through some Mission of Hope supporters and we just hit it off immediately and became friends and our friendship has grown over the years. He developed a passion and belief in what the Mission does and why we do it. Not only Ray and Jackie, but the whole company. I feel so grateful that God put him in my life. I have no doubt that today he’s sitting at the right hand of his Heavenly Father.”
And then he added: “Ray was blessed and he blessed others with his incredibly strong and giving heart and his spirit.”
To explore membership in the Rotary Club of Farragut, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 865-659-3562. Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers.