I’ve been a late adopter to blogging, but the passing of E. Dawson “Duke” Fisher – a PR legend — has prompted me to mend my ways because it would be a shame for too much time to pass to talk about the significance of Duke’s life – for me and for the PR profession.

I had the fun privilege of growing up next to the Fisher family; their three children and the Vallee kids were close friends – “thick as thieves” as my mom would say. Mr. Fisher spent most of his early professional career in PR for the then J. L. Hudson Company. As a kid, I was intrigued not so much with his PR title, but the fact that he and his family were involved in The Hudson’s parade, fireworks and other fun stuff. I was drawn to the aura of Mr. Fisher and his fun life; I, too, wanted to be in “PR”.

By college, I was taking journalism and communication classes. Mr. Fisher was then in community relations with the then Michigan Cancer Foundation. I did an internship under him at the Foundation. It was fun to see him in action, and doing so bolstered my desire to continue to pursue PR as a profession.

Years would go by, and each time I came in contact with Duke he would ask me about my career. I once lamented in my late 20s that while my career was going great, I still had not found a mate. His response: “You have a great career; why do you need a husband?” I felt better and more confident, as I always did after speaking to the great Mr. Fisher.

Duke Fisher passed away this past July 1st at the age of 82 after a stellar communications career that spanned journalism, corporate communications, community relations, and teaching. It was with great pleasure that my firm this week made a contribution in his honor to the PRSA Detroit Gerald Lundy Memorial Fund, which benefits aspiring PR professionals. This contribution is a small thank you to a great man, friend, father and mentor who piqued my interest in the PR profession many years ago. Thank you, Mr. Fisher.

— Lisa Vallee Smith