Ray Fisher tribute a family affair

  • Mission of Hope executive director Emmette Thompson (front, left) joins Mission of Hope volunteers, which included Ray Fisher Jr. (back row, right) and Amy Crawford in loading a truck for delivery to people in need in Southern Appalachian areas. - Photo submitted

  • Thompson with, from left, Jackie and Ray Fisher III and his wife, Valarie Thompson, during the RCF ceremony. - Photo submitted

A little more than a year since the passing of Ray Fisher Jr., prominent Farragut and West Knoxville businessman and Rotary Club of Farragut member, Rotary Club of Farragut witnessed Emmette Thompson, executive director of Mission of Hope, present trophies to Mr. Fisher’s wife, Jackie Fisher, and son, Ray Fisher III, in Ray’s honor during an RCF club meeting in Fox Den Country Club Wednesday, Oct. 6.

“I wanted to do something to acknowledge Ray, and I wanted to do it with family present, and also in front of this club because of the relationship he had with you,” Thompson said. “His roots ran deep here.”

He recognized Mr. Fisher’s wife and son for their support of, and involvement in, both Mission of Hope and Rotary Club.

In calling Jackie and Ray Fisher III to the podium, along with Thompson’s wife, Valarie, he presented the wife and son each with an “old-style” trophy to “acknowledge the role this man and this family favored our humble mission.”

Each trophy read: “Mission of Hope: Serving rural Appalachia in memory of Ray Fisher Jr. for his passion, service and support to the Mission of Hope. We will always cherish the memories made. Thanks for helping extend the hope. God bless you all for what you have done.”

Mr. Fisher, founder and owner of Fisher Tire Company Inc., died Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, at age 77. He was known for his dedication to the Rotary Club and Mission of Hope, a 25-year-old Appalachian relief ministry serving people in need in the former coal-mining communities of northeast Tennessee and Southeastern Kentucky.

“We have lost an incredible friend and hero about a year ago when Brother Ray Fisher passed away,” Thompson said. “I met Ray through mutual Mission of Hope friends, and we became friends.

“He and his sweet, dear wife, Jackie, who is here with us today, along with his dear son, Ray III, who is also here, and (Fisher Tire) adopted us.” he added. “They took us on as a cause they believed in, and I can’t tell you what all they’ve done and the support they’ve given.”

When Mr. Fisher came to volunteer at Mission of Hope, “he was one of the guys,” Thompson said. “(The volunteers) had more fun … I wanted to charge them for they laughs they got, cutting up with each other.”

Mr. Fisher also was “an integral part” of MOH’s annual golf tourney success, he said.

“So much so that the Fisher family and Fisher Tire bought our golf shirts for several years, and Ray even picked out the shirts we would have used last year (but that event was cancelled in 2020) and we used them this year.”

Ray Fisher III carries on his father’s legacy in Rotary, albeit at a different club.

“My dad was really into the Rotary Club here,” the son said. “About six years ago, he got me involved through Steve Dailey, and I’m a member of the Bearden Rotary Club, have been for six years now.

“I love being involved with all the service projects you do,” he added. “I know you all were a big part of his life and appreciate everything you all did after he passed.”

“I wanted to thank the Fisher family, too, because you supported the Rotary Polio Plus Golf Tournament again this year with several hundred dollars for closest to the pin,” RCF president David Bluford said. “Every year, Ray would say, ‘tell me how much money you need, and we’ll cover you.’ We really appreciate that.”

Thompson also praised RCF for its support for Mission of Hope. “You have been a blessing to so many,” he said.