Town of Laurel celebrates Roger C. Fisher Laurel River Park naming

By Tony E. Windsor

The spirit of celebration was running high in Laurel as community members, elected officials and out of town visitors came together for the renaming of one of the community's most pristine parks.

On Sept. 21, the celebration focused on paying tribute to one of the community's past elected officials who made history as the first African-American mayor in Sussex County and second in the state.

The Laurel River Park has been the site of a number of improvements in recent years, including the construction of new playground equipment and addition of new park benches and a very impressive state-sponsored floating boat ramp and fishing platform. While these are outstanding additions to the park, the most significant improvements by far is the renaming of the park to the Roger C. Fisher Laurel River Park. This created opportunity for those who worked closest to the former mayor, as well as his family, to share appreciation for Fisher's work and contributions to the community, but also for a whole new generation to learn about him.

Over 100 people gathered for the park renaming, including out of town Fisher family visitors and his immediate family who still reside in Laurel, including wife Marjorie, daughters Robin and Terri and granddaughter RogJenea. Oldest daughter Robin is a four-term member of the Laurel Council, a position that her father held before becoming the town's mayor.

Robin Fisher said the renaming of the park is something extremely important to her family and allows the community and visitors alike to know just how passionate her father was about serving and living in the town of Laurel.

"This was a beautiful day," she said about the renaming event. "There were so many people here to honor my father and his family came in from out of town to celebrate with us. It was a very diverse gathering with some of the people who worked with Daddy and others who just wanted to be here to support us and honor his legacy."

Fisher said she is especially pleased that her father's name is attached to the Laurel River Park. "This is such a beautiful location and it provides a wonderful background for this event, but also for so many community functions, like weddings and family gatherings.

Out of town visitors who came to the renaming ceremony said they would definitely be coming back to enjoy the park and all of what it offers, including the new boat ramp. A lot of people are unaware of this park and it is wonderful to have this opportunity to share it with everyone."

Roger C. Fisher served as council president from 1979 to 1987. He became mayor in April 1987 and served for two years, until he retired from the council in 1989. After serving in the United States Navy, Fisher became an industrial arts teacher in the Baltimore public school system and also did graduate work at Morgan State College, the University of Maryland and in-service courses with the City of Baltimore Department of Education.

In 1962, Fisher began what would be three years of teaching industrial arts education at the former William Jason High School in Georgetown. In September, 1965 he began work with the Capital School District in Delaware as an industrial arts instructor.

During the summer of 1965 Fisher attended the University of Delaware and wrote one book and illustrated several other books for low achieving students. In 1966, he began teaching adult education at James Groves School in Georgetown. For three years while in Dover, Fisher developed summer arts and crafts activities for the City of Dover Recreation Department.

It was in 1962 that the Laurel Mayor and Council appointed Fisher to a committee to study race relations in the community. He was also appointed by Mayor and Council to serve on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

He remained on the commission until being elected to serve as Laurel town councilman in 1973. He represented Laurel on the Sussex County Association of Towns (SCAT) and also served as the organization's president.

At the time of his death he was a member of the Mt. Pisgah A.M.E. Church of Laurel. At the church he served as a trustee, steward, church secretary, choir director and pianist. He was also the A.M.E. Conference pianist and a celebrated tenor vocalist.

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