Susanne G. Fisher, 70, of Hudson, WI, a member of the National 4-H Hall of Fame and formerly of Gainesville, FL, passed away at her home on October 15. She was born on November 16, 1940 in Rochester, MN, the first child of Gardiner and Violet Graham. The family returned to the Graham farm in Roberts, WI in 1945, where Susanne grew up and graduated from Roberts High School in 1958. She went on to earn bachelor, master, and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota. While a student there, she met and fell in love with John M. Fisher. The couple was united in marriage on June 16, 1964 in Missoula, MT. They settled in St. Paul, MN where they were blessed with a son, David. In 1981, the family moved to Gainesville, FL. For the past 10 years she resided in Hudson enjoying the love of her parents and companionship of many friends while continuing to stay busy with 4-H and other volunteer activities.
Over the course of four decades Susanne became a leading figure in 4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization. She worked first at the University of Minnesota (1964-81) and then at the University of Florida (1981-2000), where she was a professor and chairperson of the 4-H Department. During this period she also worked for one year in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as Interim Deputy Administrator for 4-H Programs. Besides her university responsibilities, she was an active participant on many state and national program committees, including the Boards of Trustees for the National 4-H Foundation and National 4-H Council. Susanne also served as a trustee of the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation. Her 4-H service was distinguished by her work on behalf of youth in both urban and rural areas, her leadership in applying the latest youth development research and methodologies, and in fostering expanded public/private program partnerships.
In 2005, Susanne was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame. At that occasion she said, “Through 4-H, we create environments for positive youth development; these environments include exciting learning experiences and critically important relationships with caring adults.” She previously had received numerous other honors from 4-H including I Dare You and Key Club leadership awards and was also recognized by state organizations in New York, Florida and Minnesota.
Following her retirement as Assistant Dean of 4-H at the University of Florida and relocation to Hudson, she remained active in 4-H, serving as Interim Executive Director of the Minnesota 4-H Foundation and as Associate Director at the Minnesota Center for Youth Development. She also worked with the National 4-H Council as a leader in resource development.
Notwithstanding the long hours she devoted to 4-H, Sue tried to be on the golf links as often as possible; it was a game she loved. Using her talent as a pianist, she volunteered many hours of music at local assisted living and nursing home residences. Susanne loved to travel and often journeyed to southern Georgia to spend time with her grandchildren. In December of 2010 she accompanied her friend Larry Zilliox on a 3 week trip to India for an inspection tour of several Rotary International projects. During this trip, Susanne collected information for a paper she subsequently wrote entitled “Hope.”
Susanne was predeceased by her husband, John in 1997; her parents, Violet in 2009 and Gardiner in 2011; and her sister-in-law, Helen F. Graham in 1999. She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, David B. and Wendy Fisher of Thomasville, GA; three grandchildren: Riley Violet Fisher, and Haley and Hunter McCorvey; her brother, David C. Graham and wife Mary of New Jersey; nieces: Kathryn Ovington and husband Matthew of Maryland, and Sarah Graham and partner Kyle Bloomstein of Maine; her very special friend Larry Zilliox; and a host of great-nieces and nephews, extended family, and friends.
A celebration of Susanne’s life will be held at 10:00AM on Friday, November 4 at the First Presbyterian Church of Hudson, with the Rev. Stephanie Anthony presiding. Visitation will be at the O’Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson on Thursday, November 3 from 3:00-7:00PM and for one hour at the church prior to service. She will be interred next to her husband at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery, MN.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed in Susanne’s name to
National 4-H Foundation
7100 Connecticut Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Helen F. Graham Cancer Center,
4701 Ogletown-Stanton Road,
Newark, DE 19713.