Rotary Minutes: Steve Fishler

As I view my next age milestone, the start of my eighth decade, right over the horizon, I’m starting to appreciate people like Steve Fishler more. Steve describes his professed calling as working with old people like his grandparents. Steve described his current position as the big boss at the Forest at Duke as the pinnacle of such a career.

I can see that. I have a dear friend, who is wrapping up her tenth decade, who has been at the Forest at Duke for several years. At first she didn’t want to leave her home and give up her independence. I used to tease her that I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to live in what I perceived to be the best college dorm ever. I mean think about it, all those amenities, plus something I never had in college, many more women than men. Most of us were probably aware of The Forest and that Steve’s role as “Chancellor.”

But like so many of these Rotary Minutes, Steve also surprised and entertained the gathered Rotarians. First of all, he’s a Braves fan from the Bronx, where rabid Yankees are born and bred. He explained this as the result of his wife being a 7th generation North Carolinian raised mostly in Atlanta.

Steve’s journey through life has taken him from New York City to Long Island to Rochester, to Tucson, to Ocean Beach, to Encinitas, to Chicago to Hollywood (Florida) and finally to Chapel Hill, where he has the Triangle triangulated, since he works in Durham and his wife works in Raleigh at NCSU.

Steve has degrees in Health Services Administration and Long Term Care Administration but his wife has three degrees including a PhD in International Relations. He claims that deciding who to root for in the local athletic wars is not difficult; they root for all three Universities. “It’s fun, it’s easy…most of the time.” This must be a side benefit of an International Relations degree.

Another surprise was his passion for concerts which started with his first, the Concert for Bangladesh in Madison Square Garden in 1971. He then ticked off a long list of familiar names in rock and roll as well as jazz. This made me feel better than last week when the list of her favorite movies that Deirdre sent me did not contain one that I had seen and several I’d never heard of. I’ll publish the list as a follow up once I check that they were really movies and she wasn’t just teasing.

Steve joked about his two children too. His son is at San Diego College skateboarding or skateboarding college…he wasn’t sure which. His sixteen year old daughter also plans to head to college in California and I swear Steve said one of the schools she was considering was UC Santa Clause.

Steve’s final surprise was reaching down under the lectern and pulling out several balls that he juggled, which was even more surprising than Vince Simonetti showing up to relieve me at the Salvation Army bucket with a tuba. This made Steve a perfect counterpoint to Marge Nordstrom’s  juggling…and dropping….the raffle tickets in her role of sergeant-at-arms. Thank God sergeants-at-arms don’t really carry arms.

One critique of Steve’s presentation; at the beginning he announced his age as 56 which just so happens to be the year he was born, 1956. He described it as a once in a lifetime occurrence. He should have saved that for last. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who sat there trying to figure out how many birth years there where, where that was possible. I haven’t figured it out and I may have to pose the question to my math teacher daughter who writes up those kind of tricky questions to demonstrate how smart she is and how dumb I am.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

 

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