JOHN HENRY FISHER

Jack Fisher passed away on Christmas Day, 2010. He leaves a loving and grateful family, including children Bob (Helen), Joan Beaty (Len) and Dave (Ginny), plus 8 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

Born in 1914 in Vancouver, Jack was blessed with a brilliant mind and strong athleticism. Although he achieved honours for his first degrees in chemistry at UBC, his passion was the Varsity Outdoor Club. After receiving his PhD from McGill, he distinguished himself as a researcher and chemical engineer in the pulp and paper industry. While working in St Catherines, he invented a method to extract artificial vanilla from a byproduct of Ontario Paper’s pulp mill. He developed the process from the laboratory through pilot plant to a full scale production facility which generated much of the company’s profits for a number of years. Longing to return to his beloved west coast, he convinced HR MacMillan that it was time the forest industry giant had a research division and he was the man to build it. In 1953, he moved his family of 5 to Nanaimo where he ran the MB research group until 1964. He then transferred to B.C. Forest Products as Research and Development Manager where he stayed until his retirement in 1973. He is still remembered today for his many valuable contributions to both production and environmental improvement processes.

Although not a religious man, Jack had very strong moral values that guided him both at work and at home. He played a part in forming a Unitarian Fellowship in Nanaimo as a community group that reflected those values. He often referred to Gandhi, Einstein and Albert Schweitzer as his heroes.

His retirement on Salt Spring Island in 1973 began the happiest years of his life. At 59, he was healthy and vigorous with much to contribute to Island life. Together with his beloved wife Margaret, they made many friends and loved living with nature on their Collins Road property. Jack was very proud of the produce from his garden, which he shared widely with friends and family. He served a term with the Islands Trust, became very active with the tennis association and enjoyed the camaraderie of the “Eggheads” men’s group. Jack and Marg’s generous donations for the Jack Fisher trail, the tennis courts and Lady Minto Hospital reflect the gratitude they felt for the Island community.

After Margaret’s passing, the family is most grateful for the wonderful care of Dr David Woodley, the love of Francis Antonik and family and the friendship of Marc and Jean Holmes and neighbours Brian and Lucille Adderley.

When it became necessary, moving a fiercely independent man from his beloved land to communal living was not easy. It was the wonderful staff and residents at Heritage Place that made this possible. Jack often said, “I’m really very happy here”.

You all gave so much to Jack’s quality of life, a life well lived indeed!

A celebration of Jack’s life will take place at Harbour House Hotel Wednesday, January 5th at 2:00 pm.

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