Bill Fischer, 73

Minister, counselor and musician

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William ("Bill") Leonard Fischer of Evanston, 73, died peacefully on April 22, 2013. Born on Aug. 18, 1939 in South Bend, Ind., to Leslie Henry and Merle Tregoning Fischer, his childhood years were spent in Niles, Mich., where he graduated from Niles High School in 1957. In 1962, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Michigan State University and served in the U.S. Army in Korea, 1962-1964. He earned a Master of Theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary (1968) and shortly thereafter was ordained a Presbyterian minister.

Mr. Fischer loved music (played the guitar, banjo and loved to sing folk music), computers and gadgets, motorcycles, sailing and, most importantly, people. These loves guided his varied career path that ranged from Presbyterian minister to alcoholism counselor to computer programmer and manager, then in retirement, back to minister in the form of wedding officiant and volunteer chaplain.

Upon being diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in March 2008, he became a great inspiration to many as he made a deliberate choice to live the rest of his life being positive. His mantra became "happiness is a choice and I choose to be happy." Those who knew him would agree that he was anything but sick and disabled — he exuded inner strength and a continued passion for life and connecting with people. The Unitarian Church of Evanston was his treasured community, and that community sustained him with visits, phone calls, meals and enduring love during his five-year journey with ALS. Likewise, the Les Turner ALS Foundation was key in supporting and encouraging him and his family.

Mr. Fischer's final week was spent on the MICU floor of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The incredible medical staff there tried to fight off the pneumonia that ravaged within him, but it was not meant to be. Jointly with his family, he made the decision to have life support removed, and he was surrounded by loved ones when he peacefully died.

Bill Fischer is survived by his life partner, Renee D. Hoff; his children, Rebecca Ann Fischer, Benjamin Paul Fischer (Kelly Pollington), the childrens' mother, Hildegard Richter Fischer of Oak Park; his sister, Mary Eda Fischer (James Lamoreaux), and two nieces, Sarah Brazo and Amy Lanam.

A service celebrating his life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, at the Unitarian Church of Evanston. It was Bill's request that memorials be made to either the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Bill Fischer Memorial Fund, 1330 Ridge Ave, Evanston, IL 60201 or to the Les Turner ALS Foundation, 5550 W. Touhy Ave. #302, Skokie, IL 60077.

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