Arnold Bernard Fischer died Feb. 17, 2012, at Bothwell Regional Health Center at the age of 94. Born March 15, 1917, on the family farm in Cooper County, near Tipton, he was the tenth of 12 children born to John H. and Julia Lelia Schmidt Fischer. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers John, Oscar, Ewald, Bernard, Henry, Roger, and Msgr. Joseph Fischer; sisters Sr. Mary Samuela (Gertrude), Sr. Mary Juda (Martha), Sr. Mary Samuela (Rose), and Eva Bollweg; a son, Robert William Fischer, who died at birth; and a son-in-law, Michael Chambers.
After attending Saint Andrew’s School and starting his first business as a terrace builder in the Tipton area, he served in the Second World War in the Sixth U.S. Naval Construction Battalion, better known as the 6th Seabees. As part of his deployment and service, he was in the first group of Seabees to land on Guadalcanal on Sept. 1, 1942, in support of the 1st Marines who had started their offensive on the island just a few weeks earlier. A heavy equipment operator, Fischer was instrumental in maintaining Henderson Air Field, which became a central base for air operations in the South Pacific. He was on the island during the height of the offensive to secure the island and endured five months of what was to become known as “The Green Hell.” Under constant attack, he operated the heavy machinery required to repair the airfield after enemy bombing and constructed new airstrips in the jungle. After Guadalcanal, the remainder of his service was spent in the South Pacific in numerous strategic locations, building the infrastructure that was critical to our success. During his deployment, he contracted malaria five times, while fighting off combat fatigue. Fischer received the Good Conduct and Presidential Unit Citation medals.
After the war, the Seabees continued to be a significant part of his life. Every October, in remembrance of a three-day constant shelling, he and his fellow Seabees gathered to honor those that were lost and those that had survived their deployment. He was a past president of the 6th Seabees Association and a member of the 40 & 8 Honor Society of American Veterans, and participated in the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. to see the World War II Memorial.
Following the war – and a five-year engagement – he married Julia Margaret Kraus, of Pilot Grove, on April 21, 1945, at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Boonville. After completing his naval service in Rhode Island in 1945, the couple moved to Sedalia.
With his nephew, John (Jack) Q. Fischer, Arnold then co-founded Fischer’s Concrete Service and Fischer & Fischer Excavating. He later served as president of the Missouri Concrete Association, Ready Mix Division, and the Sedalia Manufacturers Association, and was also a member of Rotary International.
Although a successful businessman and civic leader, his true passion in life was cattle farming. At the age of 92, he still managed 100 head of cattle, and rarely missed a day on the farm. Annual Family Farm Days were highly anticipated gatherings, and he loved to spend time in his garden. Throughout his life, he was a patron and friend of the Pettis County Extension Foundation.
As a dedicated member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, he served on the Parish Council, the Finance Committee, and as a Eucharistic Minister and usher, and was proud to participate in various restoration efforts for the church and Sacred Heart School. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus, receiving his 75-year pin on Jan. 28 of this year.
When not at work or the farm, he enjoyed spending time with his large family, particularly at The Lake of the Ozarks. He was an avid water skier and loved being out on a boat. Together with his bride, he also enjoyed traveling, especially for anniversary trips and Seabee conventions, and the couple graced dance floors across the Midwest. Later in life, he enjoyed gatherings with pals at Papa Jakes for coffee and conversation.
Mr. Fischer is survived by his wife of over 65 years, Julia; children Peg Fischer of Olathe, Kan.; Kathy Chambers of Liberty, Dan Fischer (Paula) of Sedalia; Keith Fischer (Susan) of Tomball, Texas ; Dr. Becky Fischer (Kelley Hunter) of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Janet Clements (Mark) of Overland Park, Kan.; grandchildren Kathy Richards (Mike), Jennifer Collier (Dave), Rachel Chambers, Jill Soldan (Matt), Amanda Fischer-Penner (David), Kristen Anthony (Jay), Kellie Miller (Chris), Katelyn Fischer, Connor Clements, and Tyler Clements; and great-grandchildren Allie Collier, Serena and Violet Richards, and Benjamin Soldan. The family extends a heartfelt thanks to housekeeper and caregiver Kathe Brandkamp, and would also like to acknowledge the exceptional and compassionate care of the Critical and Progressive Care Units at Bothwell Regional Health Center.
The rosary was prayed Feb. 20 at McLaughlin Funeral Chapel. Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 10:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, with Rev. Mark Miller officiating. Burial will follow at Calvary Cemetery, with full military honors. Pallbearers are Connor Clements, Tyler Clements, Mike Richards, David Collier, Matt Soldan, David Penner, Jay Anthony, Chris Miller and Dan Hawbecker.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Sacred Heart Church and Open Door.