With a passion for music sparked by a grade school talent show, Charles Fisher, formerly of Alva, dedicated his life to music education. On May 7, he passed away at the age of 51, but through a scholarship supporting students at his alma mater, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, his memory lives on. The Charles Fisher Scholarship at Northwestern was established by his parents, Jack and Joan Fisher, family and friends.
"I, along with many of my classmates, was deeply saddened to hear of Charles' passing at such a young age," said Skeeter Bird, Northwestern Foundation CEO and a classmate of Charles at Northwestern. "I know that he would be pleased to see this scholarship created in his honor during such an exciting time in our music program."
Charles grew up around music, playing his favorite records over and over. His mother, Joan, played the piano, but Charles wasn't too interested in taking piano lessons until he needed to learn a piece for a talent program at school. Soon after, he started taking piano lessons, learned to play the family's trombone and took up other instruments along the way.
As a high school student in Alva, seeing rock bands on TV, Charles was inspired to get some guys together, buy some equipment and travel around the region, touring and making just enough to pay for the equipment, Jack said. They continued the band during their university years.
On a scholarship, Charles attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University where he was introduced to music education. At Northwestern, he learned to play the drums, the electronic keyboard and other percussion instruments, even being taught to play the marimba by former Northwestern band director Oscar Stover.
Charles graduated from Northwestern in 1982 and taught as a band instructor in Campo, Colo., from 1983 to 1984 and in Carney from 1984 to 1987. Since 1987, for more than 20 years, he was band director in Crescent, sharing his enthusiasm for music with students in elementary school, middle school and high school.
"He got to know his students well," Jack said. "By the time a band member graduated, they would have been taught by him since fourth grade."
Charles was recognized for his teaching, winning the Golden Apple teacher award from KOCO TV and being honored as Teacher of the Year in Crescent.
When Charles passed away in early May, there were a number of people in both Crescent and Alva who were interested in contributing to a fund in his memory. The Fishers said they thought it would be appropriate to remember their son with a scholarship at Northwestern for students pursuing a degree in instrumental music or music education, his lifelong passions.
"Dr. Michael Stone, Northwestern's band director, has done a tremendous job of recruiting new band members, and this scholarship will be another building block to the music program's growth and future success," Bird said. Northwestern's band has experienced significant growth increasing from 24 members last year to approximately 65 this year almost entirely due to the scholarships available, Stone said. In addition to music scholarships, such as the Charles Fisher Scholarship, scholarships are aiding band members across all disciplines.
To make a contribution in memory of Charles Fisher or for more information about establishing scholarships at Northwestern, contact Skeeter Bird, Northwestern Oklahoma State University Foundation CEO, at email@example.com or 580-327-8599.
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