Alaskans we’ve lost to COVID: James Elliot Fisher, beloved father and attorney

James Fisher and his daughter, Sally Tachick. (Photo courtesy of Sally Tachick.)

More than 850 Alaskans have died of COVID-19 since early 2020. We asked readers and listeners to tell us about the lives of some of those Alaskans and they responded.

James Elliot Fisher died on Nov. 21, 2020. He was 93 years old.

Fisher was elected to Alaska’s first state legislature in 1959. He was also Kenai’s first city attorney. His son, Bruce Fisher, and his adopted daughter, Sally Tachick, say he was patient, considerate and fair.

Listen here:

The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Sally Tachick: He treated Bruce and I extremely fair. Even though I was the adopted daughter and Bruce his natural born son, he treated us equally.

Bruce Fisher: Dad was the first city attorney for Kenai and helped incorporate the City of Kenai.

James Fisher was elected to Alaska’s first Legislature in 1959. (Photo courtesy of Sally Tachick.)

Tachick: He was one of the only lawyers in the area and was instrumental in getting the Kenai courthouse down here. He would fly to Anchorage to appeal his cases and do his work, but really saw the need for a courthouse down here and worked with the state and others to get one built.

He would walk to work every day, and this was back in the day when many families were just a one-car family. He would walk to work two miles away so my mom could have use of the car all day long.

He was of the mind, ‘Leave a place cleaner than you found it.’ And so on his way to work sometimes he’d find a trash bag and he’d pick that up and then fill it, and then toss it on his way into the office.

Sometimes he would take payment in things like fish. When you make jokes about cutthroat attorneys, I never understood those jokes, because that picture didn’t fit my dad. I couldn’t understand what people were talking about. I didn’t get it.

Fisher: Dad was a very patient guy. Whenever he wanted to go on a hiking trip, I always went along with him. As I got older he said, ‘What do you want to do in life?’ I said, ‘Well, Dad, I don’t really want to be an attorney.’ And he said, ‘That’s ok, just do what you want to do.’

Tachick: I was very mouthy when I went through puberty. I was very sassy, and my parents didn’t know anything and I knew it all. I was a challenge. And he never lost his cool. I can probably count on one hand the times I’d ever seen him lose his cool.

Fisher: He helped start the food bank here on the peninsula. When there were dire straits, he was pitching in his own money.

Tachick: If they couldn’t make payroll, he would help them. He believed that nobody should go hungry; it doesn’t matter who you are. If he had $10, he’d give away $20. He really was on the side of the underdog for sure.

If you would like to share a story of a friend or family member in Alaska who was lost to COVID-19, please to write us here.

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