~ By Taylor Blaire Mosher, student writer for the College of Arts and Humanities
The College of Arts and Humanities enriches the lives of every student who comes through the university and raises the quality of life across the Valley. With the support of generous donors, the College can provide scholarship support to students, research and travel funding for faculty, as well as build resources and facilities.
The Fisher family will impact generations of music and creative writing students by transforming loss into legacy in the form of two memorial scholarships. Ruth, a 1947 Fresno State alumna, and Ray, founder of the iconic longtime local business Ray Fisher Pharmacy, felt strongly about higher education and the transformative power education has in the lives of students.
Together, Ruth and Ray raised four children: Whitney, Randy, Caroline and Anne, three of whom earned degrees from Fresno State. In 1975, Ruth and Ray’s son, Whitney Alan Fisher, passed away only three years after having graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology from what was then called Fresno State College. In 2011, Ruth and Ray lost their daughter, Anne Elizabeth, who had graduated from Fresno State in 1980 with a degree in home economics.
Given Whitney and Anne’s deep passion for the arts, Ruth and Ray established memorial scholarships in their names.
The Whitney Alan Fisher Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing has been offered annually since 2011 to students studying toward an MFA in creative writing. Whitney was an accomplished artist, working in pottery, sculpture, painting and drawing, though he was most passionate about the written word, and in particular, poetry.
The Anne Elizabeth Fisher Memorial Scholarship for Music has been offered annually since 2012 to students studying music. Anne was an avid lover of books, film, poetry, photography, and, most of all, music in all forms. Anne’s love of music began early in life – with the study and practice of piano, participation in the First Congregational Church Junior Choir and a large collection of albums and 45 vinyl records. She was also a strong supporter of the Fresno Philharmonic from her teens well into adulthood.
The 2017 recipient of the Anne Elizabeth Memorial Scholarship, Elaine Shrethsa, says she is honored to have received the scholarship, which has allowed her to pursue graduate studies without financial burden.
“I would just like to thank the Fisher family for their generosity and support. I was fortunate to meet Caroline Fisher at a scholarship luncheon and I could sense the passion that she and her family have for helping students further their education. I am thankful for the Fisher family’s commitment to and support of students’ education,” Shrethsa said.
Ruth passed away in Aug. 2016, and Ray passed away only five months later in Jan. 2017. Ruth and Ray are survived by two children, Caroline and Randy Fisher, who have worked to ensure that the memory of their departed family members lives on through memorial scholarship endowments, established in honor of their parents.
It is the belief of Randy and Caroline that the recipients of these scholarships will receive an education from Fresno State that is a benefit not just to themselves, but to all of society.
“It can be argued, and we fully believe, that we should fully support the education of artists the same way we support the education of physicians or engineers,” Caroline said. “The proliferation of art in any society is a benefit to the entire society. What better way then is there to memorialize anyone, than by contributing to the object of that person’s passion in a manner that benefits all of us. When the artist flourishes, so then do the arts, which improves the lives of us all.”
Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, says he is grateful for the Fisher family’s dedication to the arts and their continued contribution to students within the College.
“With the Fisher family’s scholarships in music and creative writing, love and remembrance give wings to poetic visions and fine tune strings that liberate musical notes. Both scholarships, full of meaning and symbolism, celebrate our humanity, honor the legacy of the love for family, and promote the noble quest for a better world,” Jiménez-Sandoval said.
Each year, the Fisher family holds a scholarship luncheon to award new scholarship recipients, inviting all previous recipients to attend and be honored, as well. The next scholarship luncheon will be held in spring of 2018.