Friday, March 9, 2018

Rigby and Fremont County Physician Ray Fisher [otd 03/09]

Prominent Fremont County physician Ray Homer Fisher, M. D., was born March 9, 1883 in Oxford, Idaho. At the time, Oxford was an important commercial and shipping center. One of Ray’s older brothers was George Howard Fisher, first Commissioner of the Idaho Industrial Accident Board [blog, December 5]. Their father was  William F. “Billy” Fisher, a famous rider for the Pony Express. When the Express disbanded in late 1861, Billy settled in northern Utah, where George was born. He moved to Oxford five years before Ray was born.
Dr. Fisher. Family Archives.

Ray attended public schools in Oxford until he was sixteen year old. He then entered the prep school at the Utah Agricultural College (now Utah State University). His college major was chemistry, but he was also active in debate and public speaking. Fisher graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1904. After a year as a school principal in Fremont County and a brief stint as chemist for a sugar company, Ray landed a job at the University of Colorado. While he taught chemistry and toxicology, he also pursued a medical degree, gaining his M. D. in 1909.

Fisher performed fill-in work in northern Utah and eastern Idaho before establishing a practice in Rigby. Almost immediately, he was appointed Health Officer for Fremont County, spending two years in that position. A few years later, after Jefferson County was split off from Fremont County, he served two years as Health Officer for the new county. From 1915 to 1919, Fisher was a member of the Idaho Board of Medical Examiners. Along with that he was Medical Examiner for the Jefferson County enlistment office during World War I. All that and his regular practice was apparently not quite enough, however: Fisher also held a position as Divisional Assistant Surgeon for the Oregon Short Line railroad for ten years.

Professionally, Fisher held memberships in the American Medical Association, the Idaho State Medical Association and several regional medical societies. At one meeting of the state Association, he spoke on “Differential Diagnosis of Appendicitis and Typhoid.” Between 1916 and 1920, the doctor took three “sabbaticals” to pursue further education as an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist.

Besides his practice and medical studies, Fisher invested in several local businesses, including a bank and a pharmacy. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. While he never held high office in the church, he served in several capacities, with a particular interest in education. Fisher also played an active role in Democratic Party politics, although he never ran for office himself. For a time, he chaired the Democratic Central Committee for Jefferson County.
Rigby, ca 1919. [Hawley]

Early on, Fisher had developed an interest in history. Thus, he often presented historical talks to various social groups. Later, he took a special interest in the story of the Pony Express, building on a memoir produced by his father. As it happened, William Fisher was in Rigby when he died in late 1919, then the body was returned to Oxford for burial. Ray’s mother lived in Rigby until her death three year after her husband.

Fisher remained in Rigby until 1927, when he moved his family to Oakland, California. (His oldest brother had moved there earlier, apparently during World War I.) He maintained his practice there until about two years before his death in April 1952.                                                                                  
References: [French], [Hawley]
Ray H. Fisher, “The Dry Creek Massacre,” The Pony Express magazine, Placerville, California (January 1950).
“[Ray H. Fisher News],” Idaho Falls Times, Idaho Statesman, Ogden Standard-Examiner (July 1914 – February 1922).

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