It was a community bash for Mary Fisher’s 103rd birthday on Monday. The outdoor party at Windemere Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center included refreshments and a big birthday cake. Sunscreen was passed around along with colorful, bright hats for the residents.
High praise was offered to the Edgartown fourth grade teacher who retired 40 years ago and is still remembered fondly by former students. And to the staff at the nursing home, Mrs. Fisher is a star.
“I call her Beautiful,” said Alba Angelotti, a certified nursing assistant. The petite guest of honor ambled about slowly with the aid of her walker, her silver hair done in stylish waves, her feet shod in white sneakers.
“Time is passing too fast,” she said. When she was born, the automobile was a newfangled contraption and parts of the Island had no electricity.
Mrs. Fisher grew up on the mainland, and moved from Lowell to the Vineyard when she was offered a job as a teacher at the Edgartown School. She was leary about taking the position, but her mother, Octavia Lynch, urged her to try the job for a year and see how she felt. Mrs. Fisher was a graduate of Salem State Teachers’ College and Lowell State Teachers’ College. Mrs. Fisher liked to teach. “I liked the kids,” she said.
She married Ellsworth Fisher of Edgartown, a night telephone operator, in 1940. They lived across the street from the Emily Post house on Fuller street. She played golf as a hobby. Her husband died in 1977.
Staff and residents at Windemere said Mrs. Fisher brings laughter into the nursing home.
“She has a good sense of humor,” said Betsy Burmeister, recreation director at the facility. She said Mrs. Fisher also is quite adept at Bingo, and takes a keen interest in setting up her cards just right.
A number of relatives were present at Monday’s gathering, including Mrs. Fisher’s great-great-nieces, Ann Rossi and Tricia Willoughby, and great-nieces Sharon Willoughby and Margaret Serpa. Also on hand were former students, including John Stevens, who is now the principal at the Edgartown School. Mr. Stevens brought his fourth grade report card to remind Mrs. Fisher that he had been a good student under her tutelage. Another former student was Debra Scott, who works at the hospital outpatient lab, just down a few hallways from where Mrs. Fisher lives.
Many photographs were taken.
On Tuesday, a day after the party, Mrs. Fisher was treated to a continuous flow of hugs and gifts. Photographs that were taken the day before were put on a large poster and delivered to her Tuesday afternoon.
She said she was grateful for the attention: “I thank everyone for taking the time and making the effort. I appreciate it.”