Howard Earl Fisher Jr., a joyful Calistoga lad who went on to manage four golf courses and embrace family, Rotary, abalone hunting, and ballroom dancing, died in a Sonoma care center March 6 after a months-long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 81.
Howard and wife Mary retired to Gualala, Mendocino County, in 1998.
Howard was born in the historic Calistoga Hospital on 18 Nov., 1935. His dad, a builder/handyman who created many structures still standing around Calistoga, paid the hospital two cords of wood for his delivery.
Howard graduated from Calistoga High School in 1953. His life in golf began during weekends and summers back then, when he hitchhiked back and forth to caddy at a Santa Rosa golf course.
He spent four years in the late 50s as a Navy gunnery yeoman. He married Mary Derby, a friend from Santa Rosa golf days, in 1962. That same year, he became the first full-time superintendent of the Mt. Saint Helena Golf Course at the fairgrounds in Calistoga. He held that post for 22 years, making hundreds of grateful life-long friends. He moved on to supervise the public golf course at Bishop, CA; the Lakewood Country Club course at Dallas, TX; and two Navy courses at San Diego.
Howard won the Golf Course Superintendents Assn. senior championship four times – most recently at Hilton Head, SC, in 2003. Another claim to fame: four holes in one – the last at the Gualala course in 2005.
Howard had enjoyed prying abalone from seashore rocks since childhood and had a huge collection of shells. Abalone and homemade ice cream were prominent features of any dinner he and Mary hosted. Abalone was a gift to family and friends they visited on frequent treks across the nation. Howard faithfully attended Rotary Club meetings on those trips to maintain a 47-year record of perfect attendance.
Howard is survived by Mary; their son Howard Earl III; daughter Darcy Cook and her family: husband Doug and three kids – Jeff (Chandler), Kade, and Lindsey; two sisters in Calistoga, Virginia (Beanie) Rannells and Nancy Blakeley; and dozens of cousins. He was predeceased by his parents, Howard and Mabel Fisher; two sisters, Marjorie Cambra and Helen Klingbeil, and mother-in-law Wilma Derby.
The family is planning a memorial event for Howard in Calistoga this summer.