Last Thursday, a great professional died. Mike Fisher was part of UJA and UJC for so long and was a great friend to lay leaders and a great partner to his fellow campaign professionals. I remember Mike from all of the help and guidance he gave to so many of us along the way. And he did so with a quiet reassuring competence. Learning that he he suffered a heart attack and left us last Thursday brought to mind so many with whom Mike worked -- the partnership he had with Mo Sherman and Harold Cohen, with Shimon Pepper and Bernie Moscovitz and Lee Twersky and, most of all, with Vicki Agron. What a team they were, filled with ideas, with an incredible commitment and with the joy of sharing their knowledge and passion with a willing lay leadership.
On almost every occasion that I visited the UJC offices (and before that UJA), when Mike worked at "headquarters," one would find Mike and Vicki in Vicki's office sharing ideas. When Mike was the UJA Regional Director for the Midwest, we worked together as partners...and when he moved to Southeast Florida as UJA's human investment in the growing communities there, he and I spoke no less than weekly, working together on the merger that created the Broward Federation, on the allocations issues of those communities, and I all of the time learning from him. I remember the times Mike would meet me at airports around the Midwest and Florida, and would teach me as I criticized his driving skills...but I was, as he knew, listening all the time for no one...no one...understood federations and our system better than Mike Fisher.
Mike's insights into campaign and donors throughout our system, the depth of his knowledge of our institutions' past and future, he tried to pass on to so many of us. But that institutional memory was lost when Mike left UJC and we have been without that vital memory ever since. As Vicki wrote many of us "My G-d, what that man knew about our business and how generously he taught others." Now Mike has left us.
Mike embodied the word mensch. Maxine and the Fisher Family will be sustained in their grief today by incredible and joy-filled memories of Mike, and so will we all.