ESTERO, Fla. -- Paul F. Fischer, 77, passed away at his home in Estero, Fla., on October 8, 2013.
Paul was born in Defiance, Ohio, the son of Ruth and Waldemar Fischer. Paul graduated from Defiance High School in 1954 and Bowling Green University in 1958 in business administration, and was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Paul was an entrepreneur from an early age, holding multiple jobs starting at 7 years old as a paper boy. Some of his favorite early-life jobs included house bowler, apprentice meat cutter, Merchant Marine for lake iron ore carrier, fireman and hostler on the railroad, short order cook, fraternity steward.
Paul began his professional career with a national CPA firm. In 1961, he joined Lincoln National Life Insurance and Lincoln National Corporation in the tax department, becoming tax manager in 1966, and assistant to the president in 1968. In 1975, he and several business friends (soon to be lifelong friends) formed Sucsy, Fischer, and Co., an investment banking firm based in Chicago. Paul and his partners were ahead of their time in many venture capital projects -- plastic recycling; lead reclamation; rubber reclamation; invitro fertilization (first successful embryo transfer); as well as specialty publishing, tube manufacturing, commercial photography and many others. Many were successful; some not -- a lesson he valued. Dot Group, a holding company for several national print packaging companies, based in Fort Wayne, was also formed in 1975. Dot Group was sold in 2007 and ended an era of outstanding entrepreneurship.
Paul was known for his sense of humor, loyalty, and the twinkle in his eye. As a friend said, "there was nothing about Paul not to like. He was a man of honor, sincerity, and integrity who embodied all of the qualities of a true gentleman." Paul spoke loudly of the accomplishments of others but seldom of his own success. Paul believed that his success was a gift to be shared with others. His interest in education resulted in long-term impacts on the lives of many -- support for Holy Cross Elementary School, Concordia High School, and all Lutheran schools in Allen County. He funded the Martin Fischer Media Center, in memory of his deceased son, at Concordia in 1987, and continued to support and upgrade the center. In 1984, he funded the Martin Fischer Foundation, which gives a four-year college scholarship to a Concordia graduating senior each year. The foundation, now under the auspices of Concordia Educational Foundation, has supported 35 students and will continue in perpetuity. He received the Spirit of Concordia Award in 2010 for "Caring More, Dreaming More, Risking More, Expecting More."
Paul was a mentor to many, perhaps most apparent in his production of the documentary, "On the Waterways," a tribute to Martin, an award winning videographer. Many young film makers received their start from this experience and the TV shows were viewed and loved by millions. Paul was an adventurer who loved boating, fishing, hunting, travelling to exotic and common places around the world, playing hearts at Lincoln Life and gin with his buddies, and being a "chef," which was often an adventure.
One of his favorite pastimes was "doing leaves" each fall when he spent many hours on his beloved tractor gathering the harvest of leaves. He also loved to drive, just to see what was there, and was known for taking shortcuts, which often turned into long routes, making him laugh. This wonderful "teddy bear" will be missed by all who had the opportunity to know and love him.
Paul is survived by wife, Margo; sons, Barry and wife Maria, and Nathan and wife Alison; three grandchildren; brother, Donald; sister, Barbara Biedermann.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and son, Martin.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Ind., on Nov. 2, at 1 p.m., followed by refreshments and fellowship at the Aulick Center (on the church campus).
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to the Martin Fischer Fund (college scholarships), Concordia Educational Foundation, 1601 St. Joe River Rd., Fort Wayne, IN 46805, or Hope Hospice, 9470 Health Park Circle, Fort Myers, FL 33908. Handling arrangements is Shikany's Bonita Funeral Home, Bonita Springs, Fla.