‘Charlie’ Fisher (July 8, 1935 – November 9, 2023) was a long-time marsh volunteer. He was the first to set up marsh water monitoring studies in the 1990s with his Bordentown High School students. He was a great marsh friend, important to lifting the marsh from a virtually abandoned place to the status it now has.
As a Bordentown High School science teacher, he was a member the education committee that was involved in the development of the first 1999 marsh management plan*, providing educational insights and guidance. He also helped develop the updated second management 2010 plan**. Additionally, he attended many meetings as a member of the Friends for the Marsh executive committee as we moved forward with planning programs and ultimately the Tulpehaking Nature Center.
Students who took his courses thought he was a ‘great’ teacher and he was recognized as Teacher of the Year in 1987. As further demonstration of his education contributions, he was commemorated upon his retirement in 1997 with a Joint Resolution by the NJ Senate and General Assembly. (See some testimonials below)
He was a teacher at the marsh too.
Kelly Rypkema, Director of Environmental Education, Mercer County Park Commission, recalls: that….”Charlie Fisher… was a lifelong educator, always ready to help people and lend support. Shortly after I started my job at the Abbott Marshlands 10 years ago, I coordinated a field trip for a local school (Lalor Elementary), but I had no staff! Charlie was one of the skilled volunteers who stepped up to lead guided trail walks for the students. He always came to any program with a cheerful attitude. He loved the Abbott Marshlands, and used it as a study site in his curriculum while teaching in Bordentown.”
Because my husband couldn’t always be there, whenever I needed a paddling partner, Charlie Fisher would help out. He brought his canoe; I didn’t have to load up ours and get it to the marsh. He was an enthusiastic paddling companion; paddling with him was always a pleasure. [I know we both would have enjoyed a few more paddles in the marsh.] He helped with Delaware River Sojourn and other on-the-water trips. Often these organized trips were educational and as we paddled along, he shared his students’ water monitoring findings.
As the marsh water trail was first developed, Charlie helped with installation of trail markers, some hung from trees, along Crosswicks Creek. At a later date, Charlie also helped install directional signage so paddlers knew where to turn to find Watson Woods.
He generously helped renovate the canoe that my husband and I used for many years to explore the marsh. He came to our house in Kendall Park to replace seats and cross bars that had deteriorated over many years of use. Charlie knew what to do with all the pieces I’d ordered from Old Town (canoe company) and he’d brought the tools needed for the job. Except for a thin layer of marsh mud, the canoe looked brand new!
Over the years I heard accounts of spring peepers on his daughter’s window screens, about his grandchildren, and of his family’s successes.
Charlie helped with many marsh activities including walks, trail work, trash pickups, and nature center and field programs for students of all ages. If there was a job that needed doing, he was there to help. His was a quiet, cheerful, competent presence. He will be missed.
(Thanks to Marsha Dowshen, Jessica Dowshen, Matt Dowshen, Michele Fisher, Warren Libensperger, Kelly Rypkema, and Aria Tuki).
*Hamilton /Trenton Marsh Management Plan Committee. 1999. Hamilton / Trenton Marsh Management Plan 1999, Coordinated by Delaware & Raritan Greenway. D&R Greenway Inc. 1999.
**Cooperative Stewardship Plan for the Hamilton – Trenton –Bordentown Marsh Committee. 2010. Cooperative Stewardship Plan for the Hamilton – Trenton –Bordentown Marsh Committee. 2010.
“It’s so sad. The cycle of life. He was such a “quiet” teacher, but made a huge impact. I will never forget the unit on genes and frog dissection in 9th grade biology. “
“I loved Mr. Fisher so much. Honestly one teacher that not only got me to do the work, but really enjoy doing it! He always made me feel like my work, and my actions mattered. I’ll never forget the day after we won the Soccer state championships my Jr. year. He called me up to the front of the room in front of everyone, congratulated me, told me how proud he and the entire school was of me and the team, and he shook my hand. It is a memory I keep with me to this day.”