On January 14, 2021, Clara Fisher passed away peacefully, surrounded by her devoted husband Andy and her children, virtually and in person. Born Klara Hedwig Sauer, on June 2, 1932 to Oskar and Margarete Sauer, she grew up in Nuremberg Germany with her sisters Erna and Irmgard. She spent many weekends with her Grossmutter gathering firewood, picking berries and finding fairie gardens in the nearby woods. Clara loved putting on plays, dancing, playing the accordion and walking and foraging in the fields of heather outside the city. She would risk scuffing her shoes while running for the joy of the wind in her hair. Her childhood was marred by the events of WWII--she experienced hunger, work camps, post-war inflation, gangs, and much more. She never dwelled on her wartime hardships, but rather appreciated what she had and passed that appreciation on to her family.
After the war ended, Clara moved to the United States for a better life. She sailed the Atlantic in steerage class on the QEII, arriving in her new country at Hoboken NJ. She moved in with her Tante Clara (her Papa’s favorite sister) and Uncle Walter in New Jersey and was later joined by her younger sister Irmgard. Together the German beauties worked in New York City and enjoyed the freedom of American life. Clara taught herself English, learned how to drive, fish and ski. She worked hard to become an American citizen and celebrated her citizenship more often than her birthday.
One morning, on her walk to work from the Staten Island Ferry, a handsome, out-of-breath man, Andrew Fisher, fell in beside her. They spoke, they dated, they fell in love. On July 21st, 1956, she married Andy and thus began their 64-year loving partnership. Clara and Andy moved to Vermont after their honeymoon and never left, except for vacations. Clara made a wonderful home for their four children—Linda, Lori, Mark and Cheryl, rich in creativity, adventure and love. She was an artistic craftsperson who could make anything with her hands. She painted, knit, crocheted, embroidered, did needlepoint, calligraphy, macrame, and wove baskets. An amazing seamstress, she could create clothes, blankets, jackets, satchels, anything from a few bits of cloth. Clara always grew a big garden to feed the family and neighborhood kids. She was a Cub Scoutmaster, Girl Scout Troop Leader, and active in PTA. Clara was always up for family adventures even if it meant washing diapers in glacier-melt water on vacations; dragging the youngest up the trail on hikes and snowshoe adventures across the country; and cooking delicious food over an open fire for hungry re-enactment soldiers. Clara’s love for foraging continued as an adult and she spent countless hours in the fields and woods picking berries, apples, and herbs which she turned into delicious desserts, jellies, and sauces. Her endless varieties of muffins and crepes were always a favorite at family dinners or potlucks from coast to coast.
While most people in northern Vermont have camps on lakes, Andy and Clara decided to build a cabin on the side of Kirby Mountain. The family first called it “the land” and then “the cabin”. The log cabin was built by the family with an axe, bow saw and bit and brace to 1790 era standards. Clara graciously tolerated that the outhouse was the last building to be erected. It was at this special place on the mountain that the Fishers learned primitive skills, explored their piece of Vermont paradise, maintained a sugar bush, and spent precious summers together.
To say Clara had a green thumb is a gross understatement—she could grow anything! She grew wonderful, diverse gardens in the clay of their Gilman Avenue home and in the rocky soil on the side of Kirby Mountain. The plants from her flower gardens blanket parks and embankments throughout St Johnsbury and now also bloom in her children’s gardens in Vermont, Iowa and Idaho. Clara spent many years as the Chair of the St Johnsbury Beautification Committee where she worked tirelessly to establish colorful, sustainable landscapes throughout the town. If it looks beautiful, takes very little water or maintenance, and blooms all season, Clara probably created it.
Clara had a lot of interests but none dearer to her than her children and grandchildren. She made a nurturing home where no one doubted they were loved and taught her kids many life skills and art forms. Her legacy lives on in her descendants through their landscaping, gardening, calligraphy, sewing, painting, writing, music, flower-arranging, cooking, knitting and more.
Clara’s grandchildren were her delights later in life. She attended their sporting events, plays, dance recitals, walks in the woods, and made annual treks to the West for weeks-long adventures. She spent many quiet hours cooking, reading, camping and gardening with them and always sent cards and letters to mark special occasions and share bits of wisdom. All of her grandkids and great grandkids sport handmade hats, gloves, coats, dresses and more made lovingly by her. She sewed holiday outfits, wedding dresses and bridesmaids gowns for two generations of her family. Her well-made items have passed from generation to generation as cherished, and usually warm, heirlooms.
Clara believed deeply in giving back and volunteered her time and talents at the Fairbanks Museum and on Town Boards and committees. After her children all left home she began working as a teacher’s aide where she touched the lives of many more youngsters. Clara and Andy’s extensive community involvement led to them being honored as Vermont Citizens of the Year by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns in 2002. In retirement, she joined Reeve Lindbergh’s writing group and through those writings we learned more of her youth and her thoughts. Throughout her life, Clara valued connections and maintained them with generosity, curiosity and love. She read widely, practiced Tai Chi, walked all over town and went on weekly treks with beloved neighborhood friends and Sunday outings with “The Snowshoe Group” well into her 80’s. Clara was always up for new adventures, going spelunking at 70 and riding a horse when she turned 80! After a stroke took her physical strength, Clara continued connecting with her family and friends in other ways. She was most proud of the openness and diversity of the family she and Andy raised.
Clara is preceded in death by her parents, sister Erna and many aunts and uncles. She is survived by her sister Irmgard (Jay), Brother-in-laws Hansel (Erna) and William; her children: Lin Fisher, Lori Fisher (Ben Rose), Mark (Teresa) Fisher, and Cheryl (Robert) Probert; grandchildren: Amber (Dyrell) and Chantelle, Micah (Marie) and Anya (Hugo), and Acacia, Reno (Hailey), Rayne, Chantel (Justin) and Tialitha (John); and great grandchildren: Zen, Tej, and Koa, and Luella, Ronin, Rayden, Shainna, and Nathan; and many nieces, nephews and friends in Germany and the US.
From Clara’s loving children:
Thank you to everyone who has enriched our mother’s life over her many years! Let us keep the connections, that she held so dear, in the wake of her passing. We are planning a memorial to celebrate her when we can safely gather. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you honor her memory by volunteering in your community, or donating to the St. Johnsbury Beautification Committee, Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, or a community-based charity of your choice in her name.