Dr. Thomas James Fischer, 85, of Hannibal, Mo. passed away Tuesday, Jan. 20, at his home. Family and friends are invited to Dr. Fischer’s Life Celebration at a Visitation on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 1 p.m. at the James O’Donnell Funeral Home in Hannibal, with memorial services at 2 p.m. Rev. Richard Ingmire will officiate. Full Military Rites by Emmette J. Shields American Legion Post #55 will follow the memorial service. A private burial at Beardstown City Cemetery will be at a later date.
Dr. Fischer was born on Aug. 12, 1930, the third son of William and Armida (Gebig) Fischer, in Beardstown. His boyhood was spent fishing and duck hunting along the Illinois River. He attended Beardstown High School, where he was an outstanding athlete, lettering in football, basketball, baseball and track all four years. He graduated in 1949, earning a football scholarship to the University of Illinois.
After an injury his freshman year, he transferred to Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., where he played football and basketball and was a member of the Mu Theta Nu fraternity, graduating in 1953. While in college, he spent three summers as a counselor at the Cheley Camp near Estes Park, Colo. One summer, he joined a small group of counselors and completed an epic hike, summiting seven “13ers” in the Mummy Range in a single day. His love of the mountains continued throughout his life.
He attended the University of Missouri School of Medicine, graduating as a member of the first four-year class in 1957. On June 12, 1957 he married Elizabeth Jean Hitz from Laddonia, Mo., a 1956 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Nursing. Dr. Fischer completed his surgical internship at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, and surgical residency at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis.
In 1960, he joined the medical practice of Dr. Merrill Roller in Hannibal. In 1974, he became Medical Director of the emergency room at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, establishing the region’s first 24-hour physician-staffed emergency room. He also was on the medical staff at the Illinois Veterans Home. During his career, he served in the Kansas Army National Guard as Division Surgeon in the 35th Infantry Division at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., earning the rank of Colonel.
Dr. Fischer loved his profession. He performed surgeries in the morning, saw clinic patients during the day, and made after-hours house calls around Hannibal in his Volkswagen Beetle. He served on the hospital boards of St. Elizabeth and Levering Hospitals, and as the Ralls-Shelby-Marion County Medical Society president. He was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, the Lions Club, and Masonic Lodge, and served as chairman of the Missouri Clean Water Commission. An outdoorsman and conservationist, he enjoyed many hunting and fishing trips to the western states, Canada and Alaska, and skiing trips with his family. A licensed pilot, he flew with friends to Alaska in 1969, stopping along the route to deliver greetings from the city of Hannibal in celebration of its sesquicentennial. He had an eye for a good horse, and the family spent many years riding and exhibiting Quarter horses around the Midwest.
Survivors include wife Betty Fischer of Hannibal; daughters Cindy Fischer Russell of Pleasant Hill, Andrea Fischer of Columbia, Heidi Fischer of Needham, Mass., and granddaughters Elizabeth and Ann-Marie Henderson of Columbia. He was preceded in death by his parents, and brothers William Fischer and Robert Fischer of Beardstown.
Memorial donations may be made to the Fischer Family Medical Scholarship Fund at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, or to Culver-Stockton College Scholarships, in care of the James O’Donnell Funeral Home.