Founder – Intrepid Museum

Founder – Intrepid Museum

Zachary Fisher (September 26, 1910 – June 4, 1999) was a prominent Jewish American philanthropist in the New York real estate community and a major philanthropic benefactor for the men and women in the United States Armed Forces and their families, as well as numerous other not-for-profit organizations.

In 1978, Fisher founded the campaign to save the historic and battle-scarred World War II aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CV-11) from the scrapyard and transform it into America’s largest naval museum. The ship became the center of New York City’s Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, which hosts nearly one million visitors annually. 

He founded the Fisher House Foundation, which builds “homes of comfort” at or near military and Veterans Administration hospitals. These Fisher Houses provide free temporary lodging to the families of veterans and service members who are receiving medical care.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Fisher began working in construction at the age of 16. Shortly thereafter, he and his brothers, Martin and Larry, joined forces to form Fisher Brothers, which grew into one of the real estate industry’s premier residential and commercial developers, owning more than five million square feet of office space.

From the earliest days of his construction career, Mr. Fisher was a strong supporter of the U.S. Armed Forces. Prevented from active service in World War II due to a leg injury, Mr. Fisher drew on his building skills to assist the U.S. Coastal Service in the construction of coastal fortifications. His patronage of the Armed Forces became an ongoing concern from that time, evolving to occupy increasing amounts of his energies.

In the 1970s, while remaining active in Fisher Brothers, Mr. Fisher’s commitment to both the Armed Forces and other philanthropic causes intensified still further through his leadership role in a number of major projects.

In 1982, the same year as the Museum’s opening, Mr. Fisher established the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Armed Services Foundation. Through the Foundation, he made significant contributions to the families of the victims of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Since then, the Foundation has made contributions of $25,000 to numerous military families who have lost loved ones under tragic circumstances.

Mr. Fisher has also supported the families of New York City firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. His Armed Services Foundation also provides scholarship funds to active and former service members and their families.

In 1990, Mr. Fisher and his wife, Elizabeth, founded the Fisher House Foundation, after Pauline Trost, wife of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Carlisle Trost, presented to Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher the need for temporary lodging facilities for families at major military medical centers. The Fishers personally dedicated more than $20 million to the construction of comfort homes for families of hospitalized military personnel.

More than 50 Fisher Houses now operate at military bases and Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers throughout the nation. More than 183,000 days of lodging are provided by Fisher Houses every year, saving families an estimated $5 million annually. Since the program’s inception, more than 50,000 families have stayed in Fisher Houses.

These temporary living facilities served as “homes away from home” for families of military personnel who were undergoing treatment at military or VA hospitals.

In April 1995, Zachary Fisher was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton.

In 1997 Mr. and Mrs. Fisher were given the Naval Heritage Award from the U S Navy Memorial Foundation for their efforts on the development of Fisher House.

In 1998, Mr. Fisher received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton in honor of his wide-ranging contributions on behalf of the young men and women in the US Armed Forces.

He also received the Horatio Alger Award, the Volunteer Action Award, the Senior Civilian Award from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, as well as the top awards a civilian can receive from each branch of the military.

In 1999 the U. S. Senate introduced a bill that would confer upon Fisher the status of honorary veteran of the Armed Forces. Fisher had attempted to enlist in the military during World War II but was disqualified due to a pre-existing medical condition. The bill, Public Law 106-161, was signed on December 9, 1999. Only Bob Hope shares the status of honorary veteran of the Armed Forces.

Separately, Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Clinton, as well as Margaret Thatcher and the late Yitzak Rabin, recognized Mr. Fisher for his support of charitable organizations throughout the United States.

In 1994, Mr. Fisher, in partnership with David Rockefeller, established the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, which funds Alzheimer’s disease research with the goal of finding a cause and cure. The Foundation operates the nation’s largest and most modern Alzheimer’s research laboratory, housed at The Rockefeller University in New York City.

Throughout his life, Mr. Fisher held a number of posts on a variety of charitable and arts organizations and military charities throughout the country. He served as Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Marine CorpsLaw Enforcement Foundation and was a supporter of the Coast Guard Foundation, the Navy League and other military charities. Mr. Fisher also established the annual Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Award for Excellence in Military Medicine.

He was a major supporter of the Metropolitan Opera, Temple Israel, the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs, the George C. Marshall Foundation, the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, the Reagan Presidential Library, the United Jewish Appeal and many other organizations. Mr. Fisher also served on the boards of Carnegie Hall and several other institutions and received honorary doctorate degrees from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zachary_Fisher

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. David Borland DKe 62-64

     /  December 2, 2012

    I am a former crewmember and I feel special that I was able to have known Mr and Mrs. Fisher. I’ve met and talked to him at many reunions aboard the Intrepid in the early days of the Association and will never forget the man and what he has done for vets

    Reply
  2. Bill Nickerson G DIV BOMB ELEVATORS 60/61

     /  December 4, 2012

    I met Mister Fisher on the pier at Philly as Intrepid was starting her trip to New York. It was a pleasure to shake his hand and thank him for saving her!

    Reply
    • Dave and Bill, thanks for your comments…and…for your support of my Blog. – FCM/AMS3, V6 Div., ’61-’62/Past Association President (’03-’05), John Simonetti

      Reply

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