James “Jim” Gratton Fisher II of Elkins, West Virginia, was a kind, loving and intellectually curious brother, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. He passed away on Monday, November 22, 2021 at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. He was 76 years old.
Jim was born to James and Ida Fisher in May 1945 in Williamson, West Virginia. He enjoyed his childhood at “Happy Valley” often telling stories of growing up with her three siblings. He fondly remembered explorations and adventures on the hillside as he climbed the “Big rock” behind the family house. He graduated from Williamson High School in 1963.
During the Vietnam War, he was a member of the United States Air Force, where his job as an aircraft mechanic sent him all over the world. He shared memories of his time at Nakon Phanom Air Base (NKP) in Thailand. He once lamented that his work schedule ruined the results of the 1968 World Series, where his favorite St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Detroit Tigers in seven games.
After his stint in the Air Force, he attended Marshall University where he met his wife, Patricia. The two moved to Roanoke, Virginia, when he began a career with Norfolk & Western Railway (later Norfolk Southern). During his time with the railroad, Jim and Pat moved between Roanoke and Norfolk, Va., And expanded their family with two children, Johanna and James.
In the 1990s, his career changed when he took over a small motel in Elkins, West Virginia. He enjoyed many aspects of running the business, but particularly enjoyed developing relationships with his employees. He was grateful and proud of the contributions of his longtime staff to the motel.
As a father, he tirelessly supported his two children, as well as his many nephews, nieces and grandchildren. He never hesitated to answer the phone and listen. When his daughter, Johanna, went for a run in high school and middle school, he drove next door to keep her safe. When her son, Jim, took accounting classes in college, he painstakingly rewrote balance sheets over the phone to give him private lessons.
In his spare time he liked to play sports. His fandom was perhaps best described by a bumper sticker that once adorned his 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, “My favorite teams are WVU and the one that beats Pitt!” He also had an encyclopedic knowledge of high school football and basketball scores in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia. He enjoyed defending underdogs and leaving late night voicemails with score updates.
In recent years, he has spent time reconnecting with his extended family and former classmates over long phone conversations. Having reconnected with cousins in Nebraska, he drove off for a family reunion. He loved loving family and showed it by sending unexpected treats, ranging from candies to cashews and even king crab legs. “I like to buy things for people they wouldn’t buy themselves” he would say.
Always optimistic and dreamy, he always plotted. Whether it was a road trip to a Wyoming ranch or a catered dinner for all of his loved ones, he wanted to enjoy life and help others do it. With his big white beard, he looked eerily like Santa Claus, winking at kids in grocery stores and telling them he was, “Brother of Santa Claus. “
He liked to buy gifts and secretly deliver them to the children who lived next door. His presence, his joyful laughter and his generosity will be missed by many.
Jim was predeceased by his parents, James and Ida; and his wife, Patricia.
He is survived by his siblings, Martin (Bonnie) Fisher of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Johanna (Jim) Stewart of Morgantown, West Virginia, and Neal (Deborah) Fisher of Charlotte, North Carolina; and her children, Johanna (Scott) Biola of Elkins, West Virginia, and James (Gina) Fisher of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is also survived by the grandchildren he adored, Julia, Seneca and Cecilia Biola and Violet and Sylvie Fisher.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Randolph County Humane Society, PO Box 785, Elkins, WV 26241 (304-636-7844) in his memory.
The Tomblyn Funeral Home of Elkins is in charge of arrangements for James “Jim” Gratton Fisher, II.
Condolences can be expressed to the family at www.tomblynfuneralhome.com.