Eleanor Ruth Mitchell Fisher
1918 - 2008
Eleanor Ruth Mitchell Fisher and her husband, Colin G., taught in the music department at Southwestern Junior College, now Southwestern Adventist University, from 1945 to 1952. She was a talented pianist and conductor who taught piano and voice and directed the choir. He was an accomplished violinist who taught violin, conducted the orchestra and band, and chaired the department.
Eleanor was born in Pennsylvania, the older of two daughters of John G. and Eleanor Jenkins Mitchell. Her father, a Seventh-day Adventist minister and evangelist who had a Sunday morning program in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, presided over her marriage to Colin G. Fisher in July 1942, in that city.
The Fishers attended Washington Missionary College until 1944, when they graduated with degrees in music, she with a B.A. and he with a B.Mus. They then worked in evangelism in Pennsylvania for a year before going to SJC.
J. D. Bledsoe, Adventist music educator who was at SWJC while they were there, later recalled the impact they had on his life and the ongoing relationship they had after he left:
I was very devoted to the Fishers. I sang in choir under her. She was a marvelous a cappella choir director. It was a very musical experience. They were a great inspiration to me when I was studying at Southwestern. She had a greater impact on my life than any other person I knew, with the exception of Harold A. Miller. After we parted, I kept in touch with them for many years.
After leaving SJA, they spent a year in Bloomington, Indiana, where she pursued work on a Ph.D. in music at Indiana University. At the end of that year they went to Philippine Union College, where they worked briefly before returning to the States, somewhat disillusioned by that experience. In 1958 they entered the nursing home business in Los Gatos, California, working there for 29 years before retiring to southern Oregon in 1987. Bledsoe, who maintained contact with the Fishers for many years, observed
She related to me in one of our conversations how she and her son would go to the nursing home on Sabbaths to care for things that had to be done. Because of that, they were "unchurched." She once observed to me that "I didn't leave the church, the church left me." Even so, in their letters to me, they never indicated any bitterness.
The Fishers were residing in southern Oregon at the time of Colin's death in 2001 at age 81. She was residing in San Jose, California, when she died at age 89.
Sources: Columbia Union Visitor, 9 July 1942, 6 (marriage); Southwestern Junior College Yearbooks, 1946 to 1952; Social Security Death Index; Ancestory .com; Obituary for Eleanor Ruth Fisher, San Jose Mercury News, 7 June 2008; Obituary for Eleanor Jenkins Mitchell, Review and Herald, 22 July 1976; Interview and conversations with J.D. Bledsoe, October and November, 2007.