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A child’s parents have an enormous influence on how adulthood is managed. Going through life, you can take the good, the bad, and the things never fully understood and leverage them for success. Learning to work hard, have a good relationship with people you do not particularly like, develop skills, and recognize how to turn those skills into opportunities to earn money are just some life lessons that Stephen Fisher shares. If you are fortunate enough to have a supportive partner, children who bring joy to your life and good business relationships as a support system, the challenges life throws your way are never insurmountable. Fisher shares the story of his nine decades during which family, friends and business associates helped him find success through good times and bad.
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Learning to work hard, have a good relationship with people you do not particularly like, develop skills, and recognize how to turn those skills into opportunities to earn money are just some life lessons that Stephen Fisher shares.READ NOW
Stephen Fisher was born in 1931, which was during the Great Depression. He was born on an Amish farm in Ronks, Pennsylvania and was the middle child of 15 children. It was a difficult period marked by the Great Dust Bowl due to severe drought, high unemployment, and failing farms. The family followed Old Order Amish ways which meant milking cows by hand, no running water, plenty of arduous work eking out enough food from large gardens to feed a large family and finding ways to make even small amounts of money. His earliest memories are of him as a toddler doing chores, a significant and unrelenting undertaking since the family was subsistence farmers, which meant they lived off the land.
For Fisher, the simple life devoid of anything extra became his driving force for making a change. He felt that life had to hold more than hard work that never enabled getting ahead. Life was difficult on the farm. A brother died at two years old after trying to follow his father into the fields. A cousin died after falling off a rafter while hanging tobacco. Around the same time, his mother had a baby, and the two family deaths plus recuperating from childbirth sent her into depression. Fishers’ mother had 15 children in 20 years, and two were lost. Fisher’s father was a silent emotionless man. Fisher never remembers having a conversation with his father or hearing a compliment. The only time his father talked to his children was to correct them.
This description is the setting for Fisher’s decision to leave the farm at 16 years old. He had an uncommunicative father, a sad mother, and unending farm work that made life endurable but never better. His uncle Isaac Fisher would periodically visit and help out, and he became an essential influence in Stephen Fisher’s life. Isaac owned four or five farms and was a good money manager, inspiring entrepreneurship in Stephen Fisher.
Fisher was first introduced to machinery when he helped a non-Amish next-door neighbor work a field. The neighbor used a tractor which turned a 10-hour job into a one-hour job. At eight years old, Fisher knew he was not staying Amish. With that decision at an early age, he resented the manual chores, knowing so much of the work could be mechanized. In the early 1940s, he was hired out at eleven years old, requiring him to be away from home for months. Fisher describes the first television, being hired out again at 13 years old, riding a bike and hiding it from his Amish parents, hitching a ride in a milk truck, hiding a Victrola record player, and finding ways to have fun without store-bought toys. He talks about the Amish church, which focused more on maintaining the Amish culture than it was on religion.
At 14 years old, he told his mother he did not want to be an Amish boy when he was older and warned her he would leave the farm one day, and he did. He is the epitome of someone who maintained the focused persistence that the book GRIT says leads to success. At 16 years old, Fisher followed through on his determination to leave the Amish farm, and with only a shaving kit and a few other items, he moved on. He shortly landed a job at a dairy farm and worked there for two years, which was more demanding work, but he was grateful to be earning money. When 18 years old, Fisher left with a friend for Florida, found a busboy job, and eventually returned to Pennsylvania. In October 1952, Fisher was drafted into the army to serve during the Korean War, which was a life-changing experience.
After returning to Lancaster, PA, Fisher met and married Jean in 1956. He describes her as his unwavering supporter until her passing, enabling him to follow the advice in the book Big Dreams, Daily Joys to approach life with positivity and joy. The story continues through the various jobs Fisher held, Jean’s pregnancy, buying a house that was paid off by 1962, and then going into business for himself, building fire escapes with skills he learned while working for a paycheck. By 1966, Jean and he had four children. The business – S.S. Fisher Welding Company – continued to grow with jobs getting bigger and eventually became the Fisher Steel Corporation doing $20 million a year in sales by 1988. He sold his original shop to his children, who started Steel Fab Enterprises. Fisher bought farms, established the Twin Brook Vineyard, and struggled through the Carter years when interest was 17 percent. The recession led to Fisher selling his business and personal assets and renting out the shop building, but it was an extremely stressful time.
From this point forward, this is a “bounce back” story. Using many of the same principles described in the book Be Fearless, he learned from his risk-taking and failures and conquered his fear. On the verge of losing everything, Fisher and his children worked together to endure the tough financial times, and they were successful. It is a good reminder that life can bring unexpected challenges but remaining resolute to fearlessly overcome them and find new paths to success is a winning strategy.
Fisher strives at all times to be the opposite of his father. He made his house the neighborhood’s place where kids could play, enjoyed family vacations, showed his love for them, and kept rules to a minimum. Like the father described in the book Rich Dad Poor Dad, Fisher taught his children through example and inclusion in his work efforts what it takes to achieve financial success. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and was inducted into the PA Skeet Shooters Hall of Fame. Tragedy struck when Jean was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1983, which she fought for 21 years. The chapter describing Jean’s determination to battle cancer is inspiring as much as emotionally draining. Fisher overcame his grief by staying busy, but the loneliness was hard to bear. Two years later, he met a woman who would become his second wife.
This memoir offers a fascinating glimpse into a rigorous strict farm life that has all but disappeared today. Yet, their childhood experiences forever drove Fisher to do better throughout his life by grabbing opportunities and ensuring his family was close. He had each of his children write a section, and the four areas appear at the end of Stephen Fisher’s story. The four children describe their dad from a personal perspective, but a common theme is that their father has always been a loving, fair, and honest father and an unfailing supporter throughout their lives.
For many readers, this story will be an Americana story. Stephen Fisher has lived more than nine decades, making him someone who can connect the past with the present. He gives glimpses into a life with many parts that baby boomers and their parents will recall and a life that younger generations will find almost unimaginable. Many people look down on hard work now, but as the book, It’s Called Work for a Reason!, reminds us, no one loves their job all the time. He does not talk about technology and never complains when things do not go his way.
This book is easy to read, but the simplicity of the narrative contributes to the image of a man who was not out to impress. He wants to share his experiences, especially the importance of family support. Fisher was always there for his wife and children, and he received their support in return. His descriptions also clarify questions that generations have, like why their fathers or grandfathers never talked about the Korean War. At 90 years old, Fisher can prove what perseverance and love for family can produce over time.
Fisher’s challenges throughout his life, from his youngest years, made him believe that hard work and perseverance would pay off. He embraces each experience as a learning opportunity. His descriptions of life on an Amish farm, the Korean War, decades of hard work that brought success, raising children and managing life’s ups and downs will inspire people to wonder if they can develop a fulfilling life through work and family. If you ask Stephen Fisher, he would be the first to say, “Keep the faith.”
Stephen Fisher was born in 1931 into an Old Order Amish family. Now in his 90s, Stephen Fisher has led an exciting and full life that began when he left the Amish farm at 16. The book Driven is his memoir that takes readers through his nine decades of life experiences. He earned a master’s degree in counseling in 1994 when he was 63 years old, a testament to his unrelenting pursuit of life’s opportunities. Fisher has more than 28 years of experience in counseling individuals, families, and groups. He also has training and expertise in Montessori secondary education. The counseling experience and his drive to succeed and satisfy his curiosity about the world and its opportunities gave Fisher deep knowledge of human behavior, communication, and relationships.
The book Driven, available on Amazon, was written with the assistance of award-winning author Shawn Smucker.
Stephen Fisher’s other work is Light Shines Through the Broken Pieces: A Father and Son’s Journey to Healing, co-written with his son Matthew Fisher.
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