Gift establishes professorship for Glee Club

By Josh Chapin, manager of editorial services

Music and Miami University have long bonded Lee ’68 and Rosemary Holoviak Fisher ’69.

They met over song as college students – with Lee switching from his baritone voice to Rosemary’s soprano part during a choir practice at Oxford’s Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, a move that did not amuse his future wife (“I can sing my own part, thank you very much,” Rosemary recalled retorting). But, a relationship soon sprung from that rather brusque initial encounter, blossoming into trips to watch Miami’s football team, dates at Tuffy’s and rides in Lee’s automobile, as he was one of the rare 50 or so with a permit during the days of Miami’s strict rule of no cars on campus.

There was more singing, too. Lee was in Glee Club and Rosemary part of the Choraliers during their days at Miami. The Fishers reconnected with their musical Miami memories in 2007 when they attended the Glee Club’s 100th anniversary concert weekend. 

“It was Glee Club that made me feel like I was a part of the university,” Lee said.

They’ve since strengthened their rekindled relationship with Miami. Moving back to Oxford in 2013, Lee has returned to the classroom and the Fishers have shown unwavering support to the Glee Club. They recently committed $100,000 to establish the Fisher-Holoviak Music Professorship while also including the Miami University Foundation in their estate plans for a minimum of $1 million to supplement the fund.

The Fishers previously created the Lee and Rosemary Fisher Scholarship in 2015, the first endowed scholarship in the Glee Club’s history.

“We’ve taken care of people because they’ve taken care of us,” Rosemary said. “It’s our way of saying thank you.”

“We’re glad we’re able to be where we are and able to help them out,” Lee added.

Lee graduated with a degree in political science, while Rosemary earned her Bachelor of Science in education. After Miami, the Fishers moved to the Philadelphia area as Rosemary worked as an elementary school teacher and Lee in corporate finance. 

The Fishers were engaged to be married before Lee left for Vietnam where he served for fourteen months with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. They were married in 1970 just 10 days after Lee returned from Vietnam. 

Vietnam provided another connection to Miami when, in 2014, the Fishers donated their written letters to each other while Lee was in Vietnam. This letter collection is in the Special Collections section at the library, and the collection has been used as required reading for some Miami History classes since it was donated.

Retiring to a farm in Braxton County, West Virginia, the Fishers continued singing, this time with a small community church. That passion for song led them to the Glee Club reunion and, eventually, back to Oxford.

Now living at the Knolls of Oxford, the Fishers are familiar faces around Oxford. They often invite Lee’s current Miami classmates to dinner where, as Rosemary puts it, “they have to listen to life according to Lee.”

There is no shortage of stories from the Fishers.

There was the time Lee’s 1956 Chevrolet was stolen for a weekend, a mystery that lasted until a close friend confessed to the crime during Lee’s 50th reunion weekend. “Nobody ever said anything to me,” Lee said. “50 years later, my friend admits he had a family medical emergency, took the car to Cleveland, filled it up and brought it back to the same spot.”

Another car story. This time it was Lee with a mysterious new ride as he showed up in a 1967 black Mustang with a red leather interior. Telling Rosemary the car belonged to a friend, they drove around together for six weeks in the eye-catching automobile – until the friend wanted her car back. “One Saturday, the friend knocks on the window and she says, ‘Lee, do you think I can borrow my car?’” 

There is also the icebreaker Lee uses when he starts a new class at Miami as a non-matriculating graduate student in anthropology– showing off the flip phone he still uses. “It drives the students nuts,” he said. 

Lee’s gift for gab is well known, but every once in a while there can be an occasional skeptic. When a non-believer questions the validity of one of his tales, Lee turns to Rosemary for confirmation.

“They’ll say, ‘He told me this story,’ and Rosemary will say, ‘That’s basically true,’” Lee said.“They’ll tell another story, and she’ll say, ‘Yeah, that’s true too.’ One friend took her into the hall of our house and said, ‘Do you have any idea what he’s like?’”

The Fishers want to add more chapters to their Glee Club story – with a dream that more supporters contribute to the narrative.

“We hope we’re just setting the right example,” Lee said. “That’s really the best kind of legacy we think we can leave. If it causes other people to consider doing the same thing, mission accomplished.”

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