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Arnie Fisher

Arnie Fisher, 93, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, died on 18 January 2024.

The Funeral was held at IRA KAUFMAN CHAPEL on Monday, 22 January 2024 at 1:30 PM .

Rabbi Joseph Krakoff and Hazzan Daniel Gross officiated.

Click to watch a video of the recorded service.

Interment at Oakview Cemetery, 1032 N Main St, Royal Oak, MI 48067.

Click for Directions for Cemetery

The family of Arnie Fisher will be gathering through the evening of Wednesday, January 24 at the residence of Carol and Sandy Vieder, 6530 Bristol Drive, West Bloomfield MI 48322.

Family and friends will be gathering on Monday immediately following the interment through Monday evening, and on Tuesday and Wednesday from 2:00-5:00 p.m. and then again beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Religious services will be held at 7:00 on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings.

Click for Directions to Shiva

Arnold Fisher gave a lot to the world, but most of all, he “gave a yell. The longtime Willoway Day Camp owner, educator, collector, lifelong learner, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend passed away on Jan. 18, 2024 at his West Bloomfield home, capping a lifetime dedicated to making everyone feel special.

“He was one-of-a-kind,” said Lorraine Fisher, his wife of more than 66 years. “He was smart, he was funny, and most of all, he was fundamentally kind. We worked as a team and he touched so many lives through his vision. His passion and his purpose were one and the same.”

Born to Hungarian immigrants Joe and Flora Fisher, Arnie was raised in Detroit, the older brother to two sisters. A voracious reader from a young age, he was a proud graduate of Maccullough Elementary School, Durfee Middle School, and Central High School. He later enrolled at Michigan State University and graduated from Wayne State University.

He met Lorraine Bittker on a blind date, and two dates later, proposed. Though initially rebuffed, the two got engaged about a month later, married in June 1957, and spent the summer as staff at Camp Tanuga.

As a teacher and guidance counselor at Pelham and Barber Middle Schools in Detroit, among others, Arnie often prided himself for getting more students into magnet high schools than any of his peers. Arnie later worked in public school administration, in a myriad of lecturing positions at UM-Dearborn, Schoolcraft Community College, Walsh College, and elsewhere, and as principal of the Livonia Jewish Congregation religious school. A common family joke referenced the number of W-2 forms he might accumulate in a given year.

With a lifelong friend, Arnie established his first summer camp, Thunderbird, in 1959, shortly before the birth of his first son, Bruce. His daughter Carol was born in 1962, followed by his youngest son Jay in 1966.

After leaving Thunderbird, Arnie and Lorraine established Willoway in 1969 with Mel and Rita Seidman. The camp has delivered the “best summer ever” to thousands of campers and staff across multiple generations for 55 years and counting.

“Thanks to Arnie, scores of camp counselors learned how to work with children, to leave things better than they found them, and to understand and value the magic of camp,” said Jonathon Koenigsberg and Jason Rosen in a note to the Willoway family. “Arnie has been a consummate mentor — and it’s on his shoulders we stand in helping to continue his legacy.”

After 35 summers at the corner of Beck and 12 Mile Roads, the State of Michigan acquired the original Willoway location to repurpose into a highway improvement. Faced with the choice between retiring at 74 and building something new, Arnie managed every step of transitioning Willoway to its present location on Old Plank Road in Milford without losing a single day of the following summer.

Throughout his tenure, Arnie was most remembered for his trademark red shirt, an enthusiasm for teaching every child something new, impromptu knock-knock jokes, and his boisterous rendition of “Alouette,” which he performed at the end of every Thursday campfire.

Though happiest at camp, Arnie also loved music, reading a book every day, and collecting coins, canes, hats, and over 200 antique clocks. He enjoyed genealogy and visiting his family’s yahrzeit plaques while at Shabbat services. Together, Lorraine and Arnie were frequent travelers and patrons of the arts.

Arnie Fisher is survived by his wife, Lorraine; children, Bruce (Laurie) Fisher, Carol (Sandy) Vieder, Jay (Lisa) Fisher; grandchildren Brandon (Meryl) Vieder, Adam Fisher, Alex Vieder, Kaitlin Fisher, Ben Fisher, Nikolas Vieder, Jessica Fisher, Daniel Fisher; great-grandchild Logan Vieder; many loving nieces and nephews, devoted associates and proteges Jason Rosen and Jonathon Koenigsberg, and generations of campers and staff who make up the Willoway family.

He was also the dedicated son of the late Joe and Flora Fisher and brother of the late Karen Sicherman and the late Nancy Fox.

It is suggested that those who wish to further honor the memory of Arnie Fisher may do so by making a contribution to:

Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy Network
6555 West Maple
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Click to Visit Charity Website

Gleaners Community Food Bank
Oakland Distribution Center
P.O. Box 33321
Detroit, Michigan, MI 48232-5321
Click to Visit Charity Website

Alzheimer's Association - Greater Michigan Chapter
25200 Telegraph Road, Suite 100
Southfield, MI 48033
Click to Visit Charity Website

A Charity of one's choice