In Memoriam: Rick Fisher

Words can hardly express our sadness at the loss of our dear friend Rick Fisher, who passed away on Thanksgiving Day at age 71 after a courageous battle with ALS. We will never forget his kindness and compassion, humility and humor.
Rick was a part of Duke Gardens’ family for many years and in countless ways, among them as a member of the Board of Advisors, lending his expertise and passion to help the Gardens grow and thrive.

He was a founding member of the Durham Photography Club and the Durham Garden Forum, and he was part of our volunteer propagation team. He instructed photography classes at Duke Gardens, and he donated portrait sessions as Gardens fundraisers. Rick donated his entire Duke Garden photo archive of more than 20,000 stunning images to the Gardens, painstakingly editing and compiling them during his illness.

For this dedication, generosity and more, we honored Rick in 2019 with the Horst Meyer Award, an annual tribute whose namesake shared many attributes with Rick.

In retirement, Rick created a photography company devoted entirely to supporting local nonprofits, from animal rescues to museums and homeless shelters. One of his favorite ways to share his skills with community members was to donate portrait sessions to residents of a local shelter for homeless people. With 100% of his photo business profits given to charities, Rick’s talents have transformed our community.

Rick and his wife Beth kindly provided the funding to build the Fisher Amphitheater at Duke Gardens, which was completed in 2015 and has become a favorite gathering place for Duke students and classes, as well as for family picnics.

“An amphitheater seemed like a good project with lots of potential uses, and a way for us to help Duke Gardens take another step in the progress it has made in the last decade,” Rick said at the time. “Beth and I also thought it would be nice to help create something that would be associated with our family, so when my grandkids get older they will see it and think, ‘Grandma and grandpa made this possible.’”

The Fishers later extended their remarkable generosity with a gift that created a gorgeous new south entrance to the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants. You can see both garden features on this page.

Rick especially loved photographing Duke Gardens immediately after a fresh snowfall. This winter, when the first snowflakes fall — as we hope they will — we will smile and think of Rick as we put on our workboots and pull out our cameras to walk outside and marvel at the beauty in all things great and small.

Read more about Rick and memorial details