Louis Fischer, 91, died surrounded by family on July 29, 2015, after a short illness.
Lou was born in 1924 near the Czech-Hungarian border to Hungarian Jewish parents. In 1939, Lou, his two older brothers, and his mother fled Hungary and moved to Lorain, Ohio, where he completed a K-12 American education in two years. He strengthened his English skills by working part-time as a movie theater usher.
After finishing high school, Lou enlisted in the US Army and was sent to the Pacific front. He served in Papua, New Guinea and participated in the landing in the Philippines, where he was wounded and spent 11 months recovering.
Aided by the GI bill, Lou attended Ohio State and then Stanford for law school, where he met Barbara Bree, his wife of 63 years, on the breakfast shift in the student union. He went on to practice law in Monterey, where his caseload included a pro-bono discrimination case representing African American servicemen who were being denied service in local bars.
Inspired by his wife’s work as a teacher, Lou began to turn his attention to the philosophy of education. He received a Ph.D. in Education from Stanford University, became a professor of Education at the University of California, Northridge, and served as president of the John Dewey Society. He spent most of his teaching career at UMass Amherst, and following turmoil in the department, served as Acting Dean for the School of Education. He later worked as an assistant to the University Chancellor for several years. His scholarship focused on the rights of teachers, students, parents, and counselors, and he co-wrote numerous books, including Teachers and the Law, which is currently in its ninth edition.
After retiring from UMass, Lou worked as a consultant for Georgetown University Street Law Project and U.S.A.I.D., designing and conducting workshops on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Eastern Europe and newly independent Soviet States.
Lou was a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather, a voracious reader and an accomplished tennis player. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Bree Fischer, of Amherst, MA, his daughter Valerie Bang-Jensen and son-in-law Lars Bang-Jensen of Burlington, VT, daughter Cathleen Potosky and son-in-law Cyril Potosky of Chantilly, VA, and daughter Judith Bree Miller of Belchertown, MA. He is also survived by five granddaughters and two grandsons-in-law: Bree Bang-Jensen and Travis Bouker of Arlington, VA, Leah and Chris Ferezan of Haymarket, VA, Emily Potosky of Washington DC, Nell Bang-Jensen of Philadelphia, PA, and Jillian Miller of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They will remember him for many reasons, but most of all, for his grace in raising three strong daughters and five granddaughters, his love of quince and all good food, crafty tennis shots, delight in making puns, and determination to teach his family Hungarian phrases, despite limited success.
In light of Lou’s commitment to American ideals, in lieu of flowers, the Fischer family requests that well wishers make donations to Project Citizenship, which helps permanent residents overcome barriers to naturalization. Donations are accepted online (www.projectcitizenship.org), by mail (4 Faneuil South Market Building/3rd Floor, Suite 4025/Boston, MA 02109), or by phone (617-694-5949).