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Donald W. Fisher

Donald William Fisher was born in Buffalo, New York, on September 8, 1922, the son of Irene and William J. Fisher, a public school teacher. He studied at the University of Buffalo where he received BA (1944) and MA (1948) degrees in geology. He went on to earn his PhD at the University of Rochester in 1952. During his graduate work Fisher taught at Union College from 1949 to 1952, then he took a position as Senior Paleontologist with the New York State Geological Survey. He served as Assistant State Paleontologist from 1953 to 1954, and State Paleontologist from 1955 to 1982.

During his tenure as State Paleontologist, Fisher's accomplishments included: development of correlation charts for the Cambrian, Ordovician, and Silurian systems of the State (New York Map and Chart series 13); compilation of a statewide geologic map (with colleagues Ingvar Isachsen and Lawrence Rickard) published in 1962 (Geologic Map of New York); geologic mapping of the Plattsburgh-Rouses Point Quadrangles, the central Mohawk Valley, and the Glens Falls-Whitehall region (New York Map and Chart series 10, 13, and 35, respectively); organization of field trips for the New York State Geological Association, the New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference, and the Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists; co-author of Colossal Cataract: The Geological History of Niagara Falls (1981); publication of over 100 papers in professional journals; service on graduate student thesis committees at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Syracuse University, Columbia University, and the University of Rochester; and working to promote the successful adoption in 1984 of Eurypterus remipes as the New York State Fossil.

In 1994, the New York State Museum honored Fisher by publishing Bulletin Number 481, Studies in Stratigraphy and Paleontology in Honor of Donald W. Fisher.

After retirement from the Geological Survey, Fisher opened "Fisher's O. K. Rock Shop" in Kinderhook, Columbia County, New York, running the shop with his wife, Betty. During the late 1970s and 1980s he was a dealer at the East Coast Gem and Mineral Show in Springfield, Massachusetts, and other smaller local shows.

Fisher loved operating his rock shop. He took special pleasure in meeting collectors from foreign countries, and enjoyed teaching children; he frequently hosted groups of elementary students from local schools for tours of the shop.

As Fisher entered his 80s, he began work on writing a concise summary of the geology of eastern New York, the intention being to make this complicated story accessible to the interested layman. The Rise and Fall of the Taconic MountainsA Geological History of Eastern New York (with Stephen L. Nightingale) was published in 2006.

Donald Fisher died at the age of 90, on Christmas Eve, 2012.

NIGHTINGALE, S. (2013) Personal communication.
US Federal Census 1930.
Social Security Death Index.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Donald W. Fisher
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