Friends remember Hans Fischer of Zoar

Friends remember Hans Fischer of Zoar
Holly Thouvenin

Hans Fischer, right, enjoys the Zoar Maifest celebration with friends, Jeff and Susan Edie of Zoar.


Kind, generous and extraordinary are the words most heard from the friends of Hans Fisher, a longtime Zoar Council member who passed away Tuesday, March 30.

Several of his closest friends recently gathered in Zoar at the home of Sandy Worley on Saturday to share coffee, croissants and memories of the friend they treasured.

Fischer had been found a week earlier, unconscious at the bottom of his stairs. A small bowl of apples and a glass lay beside him, unbroken. Fischer never regained consciousness and passed away at Aultman Hospital.

Fischer studied law, graduating from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, his home town. He held an MA in political science from the University of Kentucky. Upon his return to Europe, Fischer served as legal counsel for the German-French Chamber of Commerce in Paris and as counsel for a joint venture with Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell. He received his first Juris Doctorate at the University of Basil Switzerland.

Fischer accepted a position with BF Goodrich in Akron in 1974 and earned a second JD degree from the University of Akron. He later relocated to Columbus and served the Borden Company as international corporate attorney, retiring in 1999.

While he was working for Borden, Fischer visited Zoar and fell in love with the village, choosing to buy an original Zoar home in the late 1990s.

“Hans was family to all of us, and I was sort of his older sister,” Worley said.

Her son, Paul Worley, came to know Fischer well through many trips to doctor’s appointments, the airport and other locations.

“After every appointment we had to go to Panera, Trader Joe’s or Costco,” Worley said.

According to Garbrandt, he was the epitome of the Renaissance man. “He traveled the world, and no matter what subject you discussed with him, he had an informed opinion.”

Fischer is said to have loved his garden, cooking, attending symphony concerts and having friends over. Those friends said Fischer never hoarded his money or his experiences. An accomplished violinist, Fischer was fond of the Alliance Symphony Orchestra and would bring it to his garden, on his own dime, to perform for friends and neighbors. He also brought gifts and travel tales home for all of his friends from wherever his travels took him.

A sense of humor and humility also were hallmarks of the man, according to those who knew him best. “Hans didn’t care if he got credit for the things he did. He never wanted to be the center of attention. He just wanted to get things done,” said Gil Snyder, co-executor of Fischer’s estate.

His service on Zoar Council

Fischer was a multi-term and current council member, served on the planning and shade tree commissions, and was a past president. Mayor Scott Gordon drafted a council resolution honoring Fischer for “his many kind words, his cheerful outlook on life and years of dedicated service to the Zoar community.” He acknowledged Fisher’s contributions to village zoning and protecting trees.

“Hans was a good friend to us. He was always very kind and truly cared about Zoar and all of its residents. I will miss him as my friend and also as my fellow council member,” said Judy Meiser, who served with Fischer on council.

Neighbor Holly Thouvenen said, “When I think of Hans, the first thing that comes to mind is his astounding love for the village of Zoar and for the people. He shouldered the responsibility of caring for both through his service on village council. We will miss him, but we know he is back with the love of his life, Ulli,” she said, referencing his partner Ulrike Knop, who passed away in 2007.

Unfulfilled plans

“I’m sad because Hans ran out of time,” Sandy Worley said. “He had so many things planned.”

Those plans included attending the International Rotary Conference in Taipei, Taiwan this June.

He was a member of the New Philadelphia Rotary Club and, through it, was responsible for a number of projects bringing clean water to people in developing countries.

At the end Fischer was on life support, and a decision had to be made. Snyder contacted Fischer’s brother, Joachim, in Germany for a conference call with the physician. When the physician asked what Hans liked, the answer was “people, travel, music, food and drink.” The doctor replied that if Fischer were to live, he would enjoy none of that ever again. An agreement was made to remove him from life support.

Snyder shared Fischer’s last moments. “I had always sung since I was a child. And I don’t know why, but a feeling just came over me, and I sang The Lord’s Prayer to him. On the very last note, he took in the biggest of breaths and he let go.”

Garbrandt looked at the weather forecast on her phone for the day of Fisher’s funeral, saying, “Of course it’s going to rain because the heavens will cry at the passing of Hans Fischer.”

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