Columbia – Professor William Bales Fisch passed away on July 7 after a prolonged struggle with heart disease.
Bill was the patriarch of a large and loving family he built and sustained with his four life partners, Jan Fisch, Suzi Fisch, Kitty Dickerson, and Marie Scruggs. He is survived by Marie; his two sisters, Emily Maverick and Gretchen Karl; his six children, Katy Vondy, Steve Fisch, Heather Good, Jeff Good, Kate Weir, and Molly Myers; his nine grandchildren; 2 sisters-in-law; and 10 nieces and nephews.
He was an avid birder, golfer, photographer, hiker of the Tetons, traveler, and a crossword puzzle enthusiast. He was a compassionate, kind, and deeply decent man to everyone he met. His gentle soul, beaming smile, and big, easy laugh will be profoundly missed by his family and all those whose lives he touched.
Bill was born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 11, 1936 to Max and Ruth Fisch. He grew up in Cleveland and Urbana, Illinois. He graduated with an AB in Philosophy from Harvard University, an LLB from the University of Illinois College of Law, a Master of Comparative Law from University of Chicago and a Dr Jur from Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, in Germany. He was a Professor of Law at the University of North Dakota School of Law from 1965-1970 and at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law from 1970-2012. While working at the MU Law School for 40+ years, he taught two generations of students International Law, Professional Responsibility, and Comparative Constitutional Law, did legal research in 7 languages, was the co-author of 2 books and dozens of book chapters and articles, was on the board of directors and executive committee of the American Society of Comparative Law, and helped guide the development of the Law School and University through his tireless committee work.
Bill met Janice McPherson in his pram after they were born 3 days apart in the same hospital to mothers who became dear friends. Bill and Jan married 27 years later and raised their children Katy and Steve together in Columbia until Jan passed away in 1987. In 1991, Bill met and fell in love with Suzi Good. When they were married in 1993, Bill and Suzi brought their families together and Bill became a second father to Suzi’s children Heather, Jeff, Kate and Molly. After Suzi’s death in 1998, Bill helped Kate and Molly through high school and college and held their big, beautiful family together for 23 years. In 2006 Bill fell in love with Kitty Dickerson. They were married in all but name and they and their families celebrated life together for 11 years until Kitty’s death in 2017. Even after losing three wives to cancer, Bill embraced life with unshakeable optimism and an open heart. In 2018, Bill and Marie Scruggs had already been friends for over 40 years. After Marie lost her husband Don, they began to spend more time together and gradually fell in love. Bill and Marie were loving partners and continued to be devoted to each other through Bill’s final days.
If you would like to do something to honor Bill, the family suggests making a donation in his name. The Audubon Society, the ACLU, and Fair Fight were important causes to him. His family is grateful for the outpouring of love and support from the many people who knew and cared for Bill.