It is with deep sadness that the University of Florida Warrington College of Business shares the loss of one of its alumni and greatest supporters – Frederick E. Fisher (BSBA Accounting ’59). The namesake of the Fisher School of Accounting passed on September 25 at the age of 92.
“Fred made a real difference in the lives of everyone he touched. The University of Florida and Fisher School of Accounting are major recipients of both his generosity and insight,” said Gary McGill, Senior Associate Dean and Director of the Fisher School of Accounting and Hough Graduate School of Business. “Fred was a visionary. And he had a special talent for pushing others to take on the hard challenges to make things not just better, but much better. He used that talent a lot on me over the last three decades, and I’m a better person for it.”
Fisher’s journey at the University of Florida wasn’t one of a traditional student. He hadn’t yet completed high school when he was drafted in 1954 but would go on to earn his GED after completing basic training, clerk-typist school and an assignment at the U.S. Army’s Europe and Africa Headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany working under four-star general Anthony McAuliffe – well known for his answer “Nuts” when asked to surrender at the Battle of the Bulge.
His discharge in 1956 opened the door to attend the University of Florida and study accounting with G.I. Bill funding. To supplement his G.I. Bill, Fisher prepared tax returns for a CPA, kept books for three small businesses and graded papers for professors. Fisher graduated with honors with his bachelor’s degree in accounting in three years at the age of 28.
Fisher started his accounting career in Tampa, Florida with Darby, Darby, Odom & Company, CPAs. He would later earn his own CPA license in 1959 with the highest first-time passing grade in the state of Florida. Fisher quickly moved his way up to partner within one year of becoming a CPA. He would later go on to form his own company, Fisher, Morrison & Company in 1966.
After being approached by a client of his accounting firm, Fisher would join the first national homebuilding company in 1969 and become the Chief Financial Officer of U.S. Home Corporation. During his 11-year tenure, the company expanded by acquisition from coast to coast, building over 20,000 homes a year.
His career success allowed him to retire at the age of 49, and he later committed his day-to-day work as a volunteer for the next 41 years with the goal of setting an example for others and identifying the needs of persons and charitable endeavors where he could invest his knowledge, time and treasure.
“There’s only so much time we are given in life,” he said. “I’ve decided that it’s most useful to invest my time in people, not things.”
The University of Florida was among the beneficiaries of Fisher’s generous support. With his business acumen, Fisher was able to acquire a company in financial distress and, one year later, gifted the $6.8 million profit to the University of Florida to formally establish the Fisher School of Accounting, which was the largest gift to any state university in Florida in 1985.
Fisher also supported students and faculty through his establishment of the first MBA scholarship and the Fisher Eminent Scholar Chair in Accounting as well as being a major donor to Gerson Hall, the residence of students, faculty and staff at the Fisher School of Accounting.
Fisher served the greater university as a member of the University of Florida Foundation Board in various positions since 1978 and was the campaign chairman of the first UF capital campaign in 1985, Embrace Excellence, which raised $392 million for the university. As part of his board membership, Fisher was part of the group that created the UF Alumni Association and was Life Member No. 19.
Fisher was an original Bull Gator and was honored with a Doctorate of Humane Letters, Distinguished Alumnus and Professor of Accounting Awards. He also supported the Tracy Caulkins Swimming Scholarship, Commemorative Gallery, and the Dr. Ted Copeland Scholarship Fund along with being helpful to President Bob Bryan in securing the services of Coach Steve Spurrier.
Fisher was a proud Gator and was grateful for his good fortune to have attended the University of Florida.
“I learned it all here at this school,” Fisher said in 1985 after making his record-breaking gift to the University of Florida. “If people can attribute 10 percent of their success to the universities, maybe they should give 10 percent of their success to the universities.”
Read Fisher’s obituary in the Tampa Bay Times.
October 3, 2023