February 8, 2023 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

‘There is no one more deserving of this honor’

Glenn Fisher loves St. Joseph-Ogden High School.


For decades, Fisher’s main concern was that the facilities and sports fields at the high school looked immaculate.


Now, the fields he took such pride in will bear his name.


The St. Joseph-Ogden Board of Education voted to name its athletic facilities after the longtime custodian, bus driver and volunteer.


“Glenn Fisher is one of the hardest-working, selfless and humble men I have ever come across,” SJO Superintendent Brian Brooks said.


Brooks started at SJO in 2003 as a business teacher and head boys’ basketball coach. Fisher had long retired by then, but Brooks thought he still worked at the school full-time.


“I saw him outside working on something with the grounds pretty much every day,” Brooks said. “He was doing all that work voluntarily as he had actually been retired since 1999.”


Fisher volunteered his time to the high school for well over a decade and still attends multiple sporting events each year at SJO.


Fisher’s longtime friend, Dick Duval, said Fisher totally deserves the honor.
Duval was SJO’s football coach for 28 season, compiling a 251-75 record before retiring after the 2015 season.


Duval said Fisher’s dedication to the grounds at SJO were undeniable.
In 1998, the Spartans played a Wednesday playoff game. It was a rainy night and tore up the field.


Fisher joked with Duval that they didn’t need to worry about the field because they were going to lose Saturday. The Spartans were playing Central A&M on their home field. The Raiders hadn’t lost at home in five years.


The Spartans defeated them 18-12.


Duval said as they approached St. Joseph on the trip home, he could see the football field lights on.


“I looked out and there was Glenn, who had raced home to start rolling the field in preparation for our next playoff game,” Duval said. “Typical Glenn. He would do anything for the kids.”


Fisher’s friend, Alicia Maxey, said that he took immense satisfaction in the work he put into on the fields. But it wasn’t his personality to boast.


“The football field was his pride and joy,” she said. “It always had to be perfect, but honestly, so did everything else.”


Maxey said Fisher was more than a custodian and groundskeeper. He was a great role model for the students at SJO.


“He acts all tough, but underneath he is a kind and gentle soul who would do anything for you,” she said. “Glenn cared so much for the kids and the school. He was always there to lend a hand. To me, I think Glenn represents the person I wish I had as a father.  Someone kind, gentle and supportive no matter what.”


Brooks agreed Fisher is a good role model for everyone in the district.


“I have said many times that our world could use more Glenn Fishers,” Brooks said. “He is, in general, one of the best human beings I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know.”


Brooks said Fisher subscribes to the old adage of treating others how he would want to be treated.


“He doesn’t care who you are, what your job title is, what color your skin is, what religion you are or where you stand politically,” Brooks said. “He treats people as human beings and enjoys the company of others who treat him in the same manner.”


Former SJO Superintendent Jim Acklin agreed.


“If you treated him well he would walk through fire for you,” he said.


Acklin said he and Fisher shared a similar sense of humor. When Acklin was teaching at the high school, Fisher would often mow near an open window. Acklin would sometimes spray him with a water hose. Acklin said he knew Fisher would find a way to get him back.


“He is as ornery as they come,” Acklin said, “but that is why I like him.”


Acklin said that Fisher was one of the first people he spoke to when the cross-country team Acklin used to coach returned from the 1993 state meet. The Spartans just missed a trophy. Fisher originally started to tease Acklin about the loss, but then Fisher told Acklin that when the athletes do well, they get all the glory. When they do badly the coaches get the blame. Acklin told Fisher that was probably how it should be.


“He got it,” Acklin said. “He’s amazing and just keeps plugging along.”


Fisher’s friend, Leonard Winchester, said Fisher was his boss when he began driving a bus for SJO.


“He made sure the teachers and coaches had everything they needed,” he said. “Even if he had to work Saturdays and Sundays.”


Winchester said even after he retired, nothing could stop Fisher’s dedication to the district.


When Vic Zimmerman was hired as SJO’s Superintendent, he was given a tour of the grounds by the current head maintenance man Daryl Mowry. Zimmerman asked about Fisher. Mowry explained who he was and Zimmerman told him to tell Fisher he couldn’t help with the grounds work. Mowry said that Fisher wouldn’t listen if he told him that.


“Glenn was still working around the school after Vic left for Monticello,” Winchester said.


Winchester also said Fisher’s sense of humor is legendary.


“Glenn always liked a good joke, or prank, especially if it was at someone else’s expense, but he could take it, too,” he said. “You aren’t anything if Glenn hasn’t given you a hard time over something.”


Former St. Joseph Mayor B.J. Hackler has known Fisher for more than 50 years.


“You will never find anyone nicer than Glenn Fisher,” he said.


Hackler said his friends know a different side of Fisher though.


“Once he knows you, the floodgates are open,” Hackler said. “He will go after you, tease you, but he does it in a very nice way. He’s gentle in the way he does it.”


Hackler and Fisher also share a bond that neither wanted.


Fisher lost his wife Mary in 2017. Hackler’s wife, Dixie, passed away earlier this year.


“That makes your bond a little bit closer when you lose your spouses because you know what each other is going through,” Hackler said.


Now, the good friend and dedicated volunteer has one more accolade to add to his 1996 St. Joseph Citizen of the Year Award, his 2009 IEA/NEA Dedication Award, his 2010 SJO Friend of Education Award and his 2012 Masonic Lodge Community Builder Award.


“With everything going on in our country right now, we could certainly use more Glenn Fishers, maybe now more than ever,” Brooks said. “There is no one more deserving of this honor than Glenn Fisher.”
 

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