Obituary: GARY D. FISHER
October 3, 1943 – October 7, 2021
Gary D. Fisher was born in Rushville, Nebraska on Oct. 3, 1943, to Buford and Florence (Sandoz) Fisher. He was welcomed home by big sister, Karen, who spent their childhood trying to force him to take his cod liver oil, throwing scissors at him, and running the pedals of the Jeep while Gary steered, raking hay in the Sandhills meadows before either was big enough to see over the dash.
A few years later, Gary’s ally was born: “Little Brother,” “Shorty,” Wayne William. The two boys built a relationship–and a lot of stack movers–that stayed as strong and steady as anything they manufactured: Fisherbuilt.
One day after he graduated high school, Gary went to Fort Robinson to shoe a horse everyone else was afraid of. On the way home he worked up the nerve to call a girl from Crawford he’d seen once or twice. He stopped in Hay Springs and called the Moore household long distance, hoping he remembered the right sister’s name. He asked for Nancy. She was the right sister.
They were married August 18, 1967 in Rushville, Nebraska.
Nancy taught math and science in Crawford and Gary went to college at Chadron State College. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in wildlife management and geology.
Gary and Nancy lived and worked in and near Crawford and Harrison their whole lives, except for a summer on the shore of Lake Superior, where Gary worked in a research lab. They moved back because Gary didn’t know what to do with a job that required only eight hours a day.
Gary worked at the fish hatchery in Crawford, delivering fish, and night-calved heifers at the USDA Beef Research Center at Fort Robinson. He started Fisher Welding and Manufacturing, which moved from the Table to West Ash Creek, then a mile north of Crawford, then back to West Ash Creek.
While they lived north of Crawford he added White River Carriage works, where he built wagons and wagon wheels and learned silversmithing and blacksmithing. A freight wagon he built is at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.
They were “Uncle Gary and Aunt Nance” to nieces and nephews, starting with Mick Freimuth, who loved spending time with them, milking the cows, feeding the chickens, having water fights, “helping” in the shop and playing with the dog.
In 1976 they got a phone call telling them they would be Mom and Dad to a baby boy. A few days after Nancy’s 30th birthday they adopted and brought home Matthew Wayne, who somehow had Gary’s blue eyes and way of looking at, and solving, problems.
Fifteen months later, Levi Dwain joined the family the traditional way, with Gary’s face, Gary’s hands and love for cattle, horses and family.
A baby girl completed the family four years later, when Maria Ellen was born. The day she was born Gary bought a Browning .22, which he gave to her for Christmas when she was 12.
When the kids were little, Gary and Nancy walked to the front of the Nazarene Church in Crawford and accepted Jesus as their Savior. Gary was more often in the shop than in church on Sunday morning, but his mission field was a 50-by-54 red steel building where he patched his neighbor’s livelihoods back together with fairness and integrity, and shared his wisdom, laugh and favorite jokes.
Gary and Nancy always worked toward moving “home,” on West Ash Creek Road, where they lived not long after they were married, and brought home their two boys as babies. Just before their 25th anniversary, they moved home.
The family worked together running cattle, riding and driving horses, caring for the ranch, planting trees, building and fixing in the shop, and spraying weeds.
Gary tried hard to balance the need to provide for his family with his want to be there for their big moments.
He was always there to offer his callused hand as Maria walked down the steps at the 4-H style revue, went shopping by himself for her gifts–sometimes a pocketknife, sometimes a frilly doll–and checked the oil and air in her tires before she left.
He and Nancy never missed the Nebraska State Rodeo Finals any time Levi made it there, wearing the spurs Gary had made for him.
Matt always lived within half an hour of Gary and Nancy, and spent many evenings and weekends helping with anything they needed to have done, fishing in the dam and just talking to Gary about life and projects. Anytime Matt was stumped he could call Gary and figure out an answer.
With Nancy’s support, Gary served on the school board, was a 4-H leader, on the Natural Resources District Board, founded Running Water Ranching Coalition and Northwest Nebraska High Country and served two terms as Dawes County Commissioner. He served in the Nebraska National Guard for seven years. They were foster parents for several years.
Gary and Nancy welcomed nine grandchildren, and Gary loved seeing them enjoy the ranch he and Nancy built, going to their activities, whether rodeo, sports, speech or drama, and making sure there were always M&Ms in their Christmas stockings.
Gary is survived by his wife of 54 years, Nancy, his children, Matt (Jessica) Fisher, Levi (Keri) Fisher, Maria (Trevor) Tibbetts, grandchildren, Ethan, Elisa and William Tussing, Madeline and Weston Gary Tibbetts; Mekenna and Peyton Fisher; Alex and Kadence Fisher; sister Karen (Vance) Nelson; brother, Wayne (Diane) Fisher; in-laws Susan (Ted) Vastine and Jenny Hughson, and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Buford and Florence Fisher and brothers-in-law David Moore and Lee Hughson.
Services will be Friday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Chadron Berean Church, with reception to follow at the Dawes County Fairgrounds.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests Gary be remembered through contributions to the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department or Crawford Public Library