The people behind the names: Dr. Mary Fisher

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Dr. Mary Winter Fisher passed away on Memorial Day of 1928. The writer of her obituary paraphrased Shakespeare by saying, “This was a woman!”

This is the third and final column about Dr. Mary Winter Fisher. This week we pick up on Fisher as she moves into Pagosa Springs and begins her medical practice here.
Fisher moved to Pagosa Springs in 1895 and began her practice immediately. She soon formed a partnership with Philemon J. Fisher in a drug store under the firm name of Winter & Fisher. In 1902, the two became marriage partners and remained married for the rest of her life.
In those days, doctors made house calls. For 33 years, Fisher made house calls as she conscientiously met the health needs of her chosen home and profession. She also served the community in other ways, such as community health doctor, coroner and registrar of vital statistics. It was said that except for two minor trips, she never took a vacation.
Her obituary in The Pagosa Springs SUN in 1928 contained an extremely moving description of what her life meant to the community. It began:
“Seldom has a pall of Gloom settled over a community as occurred Wednesday in Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County when the word was passed around that Dr. Mary Winter Fisher, undoubtedly the most beloved woman in the entire county, had died shortly after the noon hour.
“Though she had been ill at her home for about two months, necessitating the suspension of her extensive practice and closing of her office, the seriousness of her condition was known to none but herself. The past week, realizing that her time on earth was a matter of hours, she revealed to her husband and a few intimate friends that for the past three years, she had been suffering from a cancer of the breast, which for the past 18 months had been active and malignant during the past two months.”
After skipping a paragraph, we continue with her obituary. “Her death was on everyone’s lips Wednesday, little groups of men and women quietly and sorrowfully discussing the great loss of their loved one. It was as though each had lost a member of his or her family — an irreparable loss in the full meaning of the term. And how fitting that her noble spirit should leave us on Memorial Day, though every future day will always be a day of memory for Dr. Mary! However, May 30th henceforth shall mean far more in the hearts of our citizens.
“Funeral services were held at 2:00 o’clock this afternoon at the M.E. Church, Rev. G.S. Hatcher, former pastor here and neighbor of the deceased for many years, conducting the service. The flag has been flown at half-mast throughout the day, and all business houses and all activity ceased during the last sad rites. The profusion of flowers has never before been seen in Pagosa Springs. It was the largest funeral ever held in Archuleta County. Hundreds sought admission to the church and in the automobile cortege that wended its way to Hilltop Cemetery — to her final resting place.”
Her obituary concluded with the following paragraph: “A nobler character never lived in this section, and to say her passing leaves a void that can never be filled is expressing it altogether too mildly. She was the idol of all, and her life will ever be an inspiration to her countless friends. To paraphrase Shakespeare, we can only say; ‘Her life was gentle; and the elements so mixed in her, that nature might stand up and say to all the world, this was a woman!’”

This story was posted on February 25, 2018.