Colonel Bernard Francis Fisher (Ret), fondly known as “Bernie”, died peacefully on August 16, 2014. His family has no doubt that he is grateful to be reunited with the love of his life, Realla, who preceded Bernie in death six years ago.
Bernie is remembered and honored by family and friends as an adoring husband, a patient and kind father and grandfather, a patriot who served his country, an excellent beekeeper and gardener, a committed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a generous friend.
Bernie was born in San Bernardino, California, on January 11, 1927, to Bruce Leo Fisher and Lydia Lovina Stoddard as the second of five children: Charlene Opal (Peggy), Bernard, Robert, Richard, and Lyman. He spent his boyhood in Utah and briefly served in the United States Navy during World War II. During that time, his family moved to Kuna, Idaho, where he joined them upon completion of his service. He then attended Boise State Junior College where he enjoyed participating in the college marching band. He was active in the LDS church and he participated one summer in a Church Welfare Farm sugar beet project. After the work one day, there was an ice cream social. He said: “It was there that I spied a beautiful young woman named Realla [Jane] Johnson, the sister of a friend of mine, and I was smitten immediately.” Bernie and Realla married in the Salt Lake LDS temple on March 17, 1948, sealing a partnership that would be marked by devoted kindness and beginning a family that would grow to include six sons.
After attending the University of Utah from 1949 to 1951, Bernie was commissioned into the United States Air Force and became a fighter pilot. His career took the Fisher family around the world for the next two decades. In 1965, Bernie volunteered for duty in the Vietnam War. During his service there, the family moved to Kuna to await his return. While serving in Vietnam, Bernie led the rescue effort for D.W. “Jump” Myers, a USAF pilot who was shot down in enemy territory. For his heroic rescue of Major Myers, Fisher was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, becoming the first living member of the Air Force to receive this award, the nation’s highest military honor.
Upon completion of his service in the USAF, Bernie and Realla retired to their farm in Kuna, Idaho. There they managed three large gardens, dozens of fruit trees and a menagerie of animals. They also volunteered in a variety of capacities in their local community along with the daily work of supporting their family. Bernie was always happy to share his home-grown fruits and vegetables with friends and families, but kept up a vigilant effort to limit the amount shared with birds and other wild creatures. Locally he became well-known as a beekeeper, often donning his bee-keeping suit to safely capture bees that had found a home in a neighbor’s field or yard. Each fall he spent several weeks harvesting the honey. Some of his grandchildren had no idea until they were adults that honey didn’t come with ‘bees knees’ (and other sundry parts).
With Realla, his “Queen bee”, he served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – day Saints in the Denver, Colorado, temple and also served in the Boise Idaho temple until April of 2000. He loved animals, fresh melons, suspenders, and orange sweatshirts. He also loved Marty Robbins and epic ballads particularly “Lochinvar”, “Horatius at the Bridge”, and anything by Robert Service. He was quick to provide sweets to grandchildren and even quicker to provide a smile or a joke to any friend or family member nearby.
Fisher was preceded in death by his parents, his loving wife, Realla, his brother, Richard, and his granddaughter, Leslie Anne. He is survived by six sons and their wives: Bradford Bruce and Linda (Stosich); William Courtney and Paula (Wilson); Robbin Connely and Sarah (Nez); Timothy Lee and Diane (Critchlow), Scott Arden and Sandra (Jenkins); and Steven Bernard and Tamara (Woolsey). He is also survived by his sister and two brothers, 33 grandchildren, and a growing number of great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Zeyer Funeral chapel. Funeral services will be held Monday, August 25, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. at the Kuna East LDS Stake Center, 8625 S Linder Road. Visitation will be held Sunday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. and prior to the service from 9:00 – 9:45 a.m. at the church. Internment will be at the Idaho State Veterans’ Cemetery at 1:00 p.m.
The family would like to thank the staff of the Idaho State Veterans Home in Boise for their kind and loving care. We also express appreciation for friends and neighbors who have expressed love, respect, and concern for Bernie over the years as well as the military community that has befriended and supported Colonel Fisher throughout his life.
Anybody desiring to make donations in his name may choose a charity of their choice. Some organizations that Bernie supported throughout his life: Boy Scouts of America/Ore-Ida Council; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Humanitarian or Missionary Programs and the VFW.