Mary Anna Fischer


Mary Fischer died peacefully in her sleep on Monday Feb 9, at the Falmouth Hospital following a brief stay.

Mary Anna Fischer was born at the Oak Bluffs Hospital on April 18, 1948. She started her life in the big farmhouse on Flat Point Farm in West Tisbury, which first got an electrical connection to the grid that same year. Mary joined her big sister Eleanor, parents Arnold and Priscilla and grandparents Albert and Ethel in the big house.

After two more sisters were born, the house was too small for all the generations to live together. Arnold and Priscilla built a small house down the road for the growing family. For a time the four sisters shared one bedroom.

Mary’s early years were spent living on an old-fashioned dairy farm. There were chores and gardens. There were cats and dogs and horses. There was swimming and ice skating on the Great Pond. Life on the Vineyard was much more simple in the 1950s. After graduating third in the class of 1965 from MVRHS, Mary attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine. It was there that bipolar disorder struck, something Mary would battle all her life.

Mary returned home to the Vineyard. She was the beneficiary of Dr. Milton Mazer’s psychiatric care. Mary was actually a guinea pig for lithium treatment for what was termed back then “manic depression.”

Mary soon returned to college, completing her degree at Windham College in Putney, Vt.

She lived in Boston for a time with her sister Nancy. Mary became an astrologer, and did people’s personal charts. Under the pen name Mariah Plum, she wrote monthly astrology reports. Star Scrolls were sold to the general public at grocery checkouts. She said she was “paid for doing Star Scrolls by a shady guy with cash.”

Mary returned to the Vineyard and struggled to keep on an even path, going through good periods and then bad episodes. Over the years, Mary worked in a number of jobs on the Island. She worked at Farmer Greens (now Fiddlehead Farm). She baked cookies at Humphreys Bakery (now a trophy house). She delivered milk for old Fred Fisher at Nip n’ Tuck Farm (still Nip n’ Tuck). She worked for Clambake Bill Smith at the Airport Restaurant, and then at the Chappaquiddick Beach Club. She sold tickets for the Steamship Authority, working with old Howie Leonard in the Oak Bluffs terminal. She cooked for Haynes Restaurant (now State Road). For a time she worked at the old West Tisbury library and the current West Tisbury library.

With her interest in food, Mary returned to further her education at Johnson and Wales School in Rhode Island. She became a foodie before there was a word for it. For a time Mary did private cooking for folks, including Michael Straight in Chilmark.

Later on, though, she had a hard time keeping order in her life. She became a home health aide. She was good at helping people to keep clean and organized. Mary always enjoyed school and learning new things. As time went by, the years of treatment and struggle took their toll. Mary needed real care. She was admitted to a nursing home in Falmouth. The next 10 years were really positive for her. She embraced being cared for and feeling safe. She was fast friends with the nursing home staff and the van drivers who drove her to Mashpee three days a week for dialysis.

Mary read the Boston Globe every day, with particular interest in food articles. She became an avid Red Sox fan at the time of their great success. She also became a Patriots and Bruins fan. She kept up with political and pop news. To visit her in the home was a treat for any friend or family member. The conversations were long and lively. The time of the visit went by quickly, and there was never enough time to cover all topics. She never complained about an aspect of living in the home.

Mary was predeceased by her parents and her sister Nancy. She leaves her sister Eleanor Neubert, sister Jean O’Reilly and brother-in-law Tim, and brother Arnie and sister-in-law Christa. She leaves six nieces, three nephews, one grand-niece and four grand-nephews. Mary was a red and black Woolrich jacket. She was Bob Dylan and the Beatles. She was Marlboro cigarettes. Shutz beer, then Rolling Rock. She loved her shack and spot in the woods; she loved cats. Her family and friends will miss her.

A memorial service for Mary will be held at a future date.