Donald Alvin Fischer
Of St. Paul
Passed away peacefully on September 21, 2021 at the age of 93.
He spent his entire working career at 3M. In his later years he moved away from the East Side but he never left the shadow of 3M. Donald was a dedicated husband, father and grandpa. He always had a DIY project in the works and enjoyed helping his children and grandchildren. Donald was a faithful leader and parishioner at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Mary; his parents, Lorraine and Alvin Fischer and his brothers, William Nelson and Kenneth Fischer. Donald is survived by his children, Mark Fischer and Mary Jane (Stephen) Heasley; his 7 grandchildren; his 4 great-grandchildren and many other family members and friends.
Funeral Service 11am on Saturday, October 2nd at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 655 Forest St. N., St. Paul with visitation starting at 10am. Burial to follow at Union Cemetery.
Donald Alvin Fischer was born June 2, 1928 in St. Paul, Minnesota to Lorraine (Swanson) and Alvin Fischer. Alvin grew up in a German family on a farm in Inver Grove Heights and became a truck driver for Martin Lumber. Lorraine, the youngest of a Swedish family, grew up in Hastings, Minnesota. Prior to meeting Alvin, she had one
son, Bill, who lived with her family in Hastings. Don was the first child born to Alvin and Lorraine with Ken coming 3 years later. The Fischer family settled at the corner of Margaret Street and Johnson Parkway on the East side of St. Paul where both Don and Ken attended Harding High School. Though never involved in school sports, Don developed an interest in weightlifting in his late teens that he carried with him for the rest of his life. In fact, Don was known for getting up early in order to stretch, lift weights, and ride his stationary bike early each morning
into his 90s- much to the physical therapistâs consternation. One of his earliest jobs was in the once famous stockyards of South St. Paul, working in the meat packing plant. In 1946, the 18 year old Don took an entry level position at Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, known later as 3M Company. At that time, the future Fortune 500 company was headquartered in a single office and warehouse near the corner of 7th Street and Minnehaha in St. Paul. Don's initial duties involved duplicating invoices and bringing them to different parts of the company until he was eventually "promoted" to the mailroom. From there, his hard work landed him a position as a bookkeeper, and ultimately as a manager of the Minnesco department. It was during his time as a bookkeeper, though, that Don met fellow bookkeeper Mary Salmon. Mary was the second of ten in a large Irish family raised on a farm in the small town of Cylon, Wisconsin. She had moved to the city in order to make enough money to
put her younger sisters through school. Sharp witted and kindhearted, Mary soon found herself as the object of Donâs affection. Despite the fact that Mary was Catholic and seven years his senior, Don soon asked Mary to be his wife. After a few proposals, Mary agreed and the Salmon-Fischer wedding was arranged. The marriage was somewhat controversial for the time because Don was a strong Lutheran from the Missouri Synod tradition and Mary was an equally strong Catholic. Due to their different faiths, Catholic tradition prohibited them from marrying in the church proper. For this reason, the small ceremony was performed in the priestâs office on February 14, 1953. Mary's brother John and her sister Joan were the best man and maid of honor, respectively. Following the wedding, Mary continued to attend St. Pascal Baylon Catholic Church, while Don attended Bethlehem Lutheran, the church in which he had grown up and would later act as president of the congregation for about 25 years.
After honeymooning in Iowa, they returned to Minnesota where they bought a small piece of property on Johnson Parkway, about 6 blocks south of where Don grew up. They found a builder and commissioned a single-story, two bedroom house, eventually adding a dormer on the upstairs. This addition proved useful when they welcomed their son Mark on May 26, 1956. Three years later, on August 25, 1959, their family was complete with the birth of their daughter Mary Jane, who Don affectionately called Janie. Both children attended St. Pascal's grade school and then later moved to Hill Murray High School. During this time, Don actively supported the kids in their sports, including coaching their Little League baseball team for several years (despite never having played baseball himself in any organized way). When he wasn't coaching, he was in attendance at all of his children's games. Later, he and Mary were often present at the games, concerts, and plays of their grandchildren, where Don acted as the unofficial photographer. Don and Mary built a loving and wonderful home for their kids and the family dog, Baron, a miniature schnauzer who enjoyed evening walks with Don. Whether it was building a playhouse in the backyard for the kids to enjoy, taking the kids to the bookmobile, horseback riding with Mary Jane, bike riding with Mark, or Saturday night malts and Sunday night popcorn, Don always made time for his kids. One of Donâs main passions was do-it-yourself projects. In no particular order he made a single car garage into a double car garage, added a 3 season porch onto the outside of the house, built a lookout tower with a fire pole in the backyard (for which he received multiple offers to sell over the years), and the aforementioned playhouse for Mary Jane. He was also very involved in the design and construction of the houses in which he lived. When he and Mary chose to leave Johnson Parkway, he designed a house in
Newport, Minnesota built on a hill with a long, steep driveway. After 17 years, the driveway became too steep for the couple, who designed and built a house in South Maplewood on Marnie Street, where they lived for 25 years.
In 1986, after 40 years at 3M, Don decided to retire early at 58 years old. However, for the next 5 years he worked as a consultant for Minuteman Press, becoming good friends with clients who invited him on several East Coast fishing excursions he would not normally have had an opportunity to go on. Eventually he did retire from all employment in order to focus on his duties at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and his grandchildren. By this time, he had 3 grandchildren from Mary Jane: Josh in 1983, Jessie in 1986, and Allie in 1988. Soon Mark provided him with 4 more: Alexandra (Allie) in 1991, Mary in 1995, and twins Madelyn and Samantha in 1999. Don and Mary were active in taking care of all of their grandchildren whether it was sleepovers during house renovations, attendance at their various activities, time spent making beautifully built dollhouses, snuggling up with a good book, or just a walk to the neighborhood park. Rocky road ice cream and Tahitian Treat in fancy glasses were a fixture when the grandkids came over. No matter where they were going, they were always safe and well cared for with Don piloting the mission.
With the help of his faith and determination, he survived several major health issues in the last 10 to 15 years of his life. Perhaps the most remarkable was the loss of his complete vision, which was restored in 2018 by a 6 hour operation to implant an unusual device in his eyes that allowed him to see after almost 18 months of complete blindness.
His wife Mary passed away unexpectedly in 2015 after 62 years of marriage. At the time, they were living on Marnie street with granddaughter Jessica. A few years after Maryâs passing, Don left his house of 25 years in order to move to assisted living in Eden Prairie. When injury kept him from returning to assisted living, he spent the last year of his life at Friendship Village in Bloomington. He was a favorite of the staff and remained positive to the end, despite his limited vision and mobility. He will be dearly missed by his children, their spouses, as well as 7 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren, and many extended family and friends. It is comforting to know, however, that he passed away peacefully in his sleep and will be with Mary again in the presence of the Lord.