By. Cheryl Brown
Mr. Herbert Fischer is not as well known in the Black community today as his son Dr. Herbert Fischer, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, but some of us have been around long enough to remember that it was Mr. Fischer who provided plants and flowers for events held in the Black community and in various churches.
It was Mr. Fischer who was a voice of reason in a time of community turbulence. During Christmas programs and Easter productions years ago it was Mr. Fischer who loaned the plants from Flowerland, the nursery he owned for decades, to make a production more professional or an event nicer.
Last week Mr. Fischer passed away after a series of complications from illnesses that would have taken a man of lesser stamina down years before.
Many people living in San Bernardino today do not know much about the turbulent racial climate here during the 60s and 70s. When the first Black school board member, John Woods was targeted by a racist group for removal, Mr. Fischer was among the group of forward thinking people that objected.
San Bernardino was segregated at that time and there was minimal interaction between the races. Elementary and Jr. Highs were segregated due to housing patterns. The Fischer family became involved in the YWCAs Salt and Pepper family exchange program. It was the Fischers, along with others, who stood up for necessary changes.
Mr. Fischer brought out the best in people. His humor was known by all who frequented his business and he continued to work well past retirement age. He never planned to retire. "What would I do staying at home?" he said when I asked him about it. He sat leaning on his cane and although he was in pain, he still handled his business and had time to answer questions about any floral or horticulture subject.
When Nancy Wilson was hosted at our home and we needed instant abviance, I went to Mr. Fischer and he said take all you need to transform the 1/3 acre yard into a wonderland. He provided a waterfall, flowers and potted trees and plants.
Mr. Fischer was born in San Bernardino and is a 1938 graduate of San Bernardino High School. He then attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and graduated with a bachelors degree in 1942.
After marrying his late wife Mary they moved to Fallbrook where he taught agriculture classes at Fallbrook High School.
He later returned to San Bernardino to open a nursery business. Originally, he and his partner opened Flowerland on West Highland Avenue, but later moved to its current location near Perris Hill Park. Like most young businessowners, he had to work teaching school at night and build his business in the day. Because he was an educator at heart he set up programs with local schools for field trips to his store and when the schools needed flowers or plants, just as in the church community, they could always count on him to decorate their dances and events.
He was a former president of the National Orange Show, a member of Calvary Baptist Church, and active in the Baptist Youth Fellowship. He was the founding president of the California Association of Nurserymen and its Inland Empire chapter. In 1989 he and his late wife received the California Association of (Pacific Coast) Nurseryman Award.
Left to cherish his memory is son Dr. Herbert Fischer, daughter Mary Kate Phipps of Encinitas and 8 grandchildren.
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