Former Notre Dame principal dies from lung cancer

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

When teachers and administrators at Notre Dame Regional High School reflect on former principal Sister Mary Ann Fischer, they recall a woman devoted to education and progress.

"She was a good friend and a very dedicated leader, one who was tireless in her efforts on behalf of Catholic school education," said Brad Wittenborn, assistant principal at Notre Dame.

Fischer, 63, died Monday at St. Anthony's Medical Center in St. Louis from complications of lung cancer.

After 11 years as principal at Notre Dame Regional High School, Fischer left in 1999 just after the completion of a new high school.

"The school we now have was built under her leadership," Wittenborn said. "Without her organizational skills, we probably couldn't have pulled it off."

Notre Dame teacher Cynthia King agreed the new school was made possible through Fischer's unending dedication. "She made it her mission to make sure the new school happened. It's quite a legacy to her," King said.

Fischer was born in Washington, Mo. She entered the congregation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1956 and professed her final vows in 1964.

She taught secondary education in schools throughout Missouri, California and Illinois for 11 years and served as an administrator for 23 years in schools in Missouri and Illinois.

Even as she wiped tears from her eyes, King couldn't help smiling as she recalled Fischer's fondness for fishing and frog gigging.

"I always laugh when I think of her sitting on a pond bank with her fishing pole," King said.

Notre Dame teacher James Glastetter said he always considered Fischer a good friend, and she'll be greatly missed.

"She was always easy to laugh -- that's what I'll remember most," said Notre Dame teacher James Glastetter. "She had a very distinctive laugh, you could hear her all the way down the hall."

During her time as principal at Notre Dame, Fischer was involved in the Rotary Club of Cape Girardeau.

"I always found her to be very pleasant and willing to get involved and make things happen," said Rotary member Narvol Randol. "She was a joy to be around, always accepting, warm and energetic."

Death still unexpected

Notre Dame business teacher Carol Glueck said although Fischer had cancer, her death was unexpected.

"We weren't prepared because we all thought she was going to make it," Glueck said.

The high school held special prayers in remembrance of Fischer at the beginning of every class Monday.

Visitation will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday at the School Sisters of Notre Dame Motherhouse Chapel in Lemay, Mo., with a prayer service at 7 p.m.

A funeral Mass will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Lemay, with Bishop John Leibrecht officiating. Burial will be in the Notre Dame Motherhouse Cemetery.

Fischer is survived by two sisters, Jane Fulhage of Rocheport, Mo., and Helen Fick of Chesterfield, Mo.; four brothers, Henry Fischer of Lake St. Louis, Mo., John and Edward Fischer of Washington, and Jim Fischer of Clemson, S.C.

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