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Joseph L. Fisher

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Joe Fisher
3rd Virginia Secretary of Human Resources
In office
January 16, 1982 – January 18, 1986
GovernorChuck Robb
Preceded byJean L. Harris
Succeeded byEva S. Hardy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 10th district
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1981
Preceded byJoel Broyhill
Succeeded byFrank Wolf
Personal details
Born(1914-01-11)January 11, 1914
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
DiedFebruary 19, 1992(1992-02-19) (aged 78)
Arlington, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materBowdoin College
London School of Economics
Harvard University
George Washington University

Joseph Lyman (Joe) Fisher (January 11, 1914 – February 19, 1992) was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Virginia from 1975 to 1981 and a founder of Resources for the Future. A Democrat and lifelong Unitarian, Fisher was an active volunteer lay leader in the Unitarian Universalist Association, serving on the UUA's board of trustees and as moderator (the highest volunteer position in the UUA) from 1964 until 1977.

Private life


Fisher was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.[1] He attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and graduated in 1935 with an economic degree. He met Margaret "Peggy" Winslow on a blind date, in her home town of Indianapolis, on January 1, 1941.[2] She was a sophomore at Wellesley College while he had begun graduate studies in economics at Harvard University. In April, Fisher proposed and a little more than a year later, on June 27, 1942, they were married.[citation needed] They had 3 daughters and 4 sons.

Professional career


After several years working at an accounting firm, Fisher was hired by the National Resource Planning Board in 1939. He was promoted to become an economist for the U.S. Department of State in 1942. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 to serve in World War II. Fisher returned to the United States after the war ended and earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University.[1] He was then hired by the Council of Economic Advisors and, after furthering his education at George Washington University, became the senior economist at this organization in 1951. In 1953, Fisher joined the efforts of a non-profit think tank known as Resources for the Future, Inc.[3]

In 1974, Fisher was elected to Congress from Virginia's 10th congressional district in what was considered an upset, defeating long-serving incumbent Joel Broyhill.[4] The district was based in the Washington D.C. suburbs and had been one of the first areas in Virginia to turn Republican. Fisher served for three terms until losing to Republican Frank Wolf in November 1980. He went on to establish the Economic Policy Department at The Wilderness Society, a U.S. non-governmental organization, bringing a first-of-its-kind professional scientific focus to the wildland conservation community. Afterward, Fisher was appointed Virginia Secretary of Human Resources in 1982 and then became an economics professor at George Mason University in 1986.

In addition to Fisher's role in the policy and public world, he was deeply involved in the community. Fisher served as chairman on the Arlington County Board, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Area (WMATA), president and chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments, and moderator for the Board of Unitarian Universalist Association.[5]

Fisher also wrote two books, including World Prospects for Natural Resources (1964) and Resources for America's Future (1963).[5][6]



In 1985 Fisher had back pain which was diagnosed as bone cancer and went into remission after treatments, but the cancer returned in early 1991. He died on February 19, 1992, in Arlington, Virginia, and his ashes where buried at Arlington National Cemetery beside two 2-star generals.

Archival Resources


Fisher donated a collection of his records to the Special Collections Research Center at George Mason University.[5] The collection is open and accessible to the public.

Electoral history

1974 Virginia's 10th congressional district election[7]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joseph L. Fisher 67,184 53.62
Republican Joel T. Broyhill (Incumbent) 56,649 45.21
Independent Francis J. Speh 1,465 1.17
Write-ins 6 <0.01
Total votes 125,304 100.00
Democratic gain from Republican
1976 Virginia's 10th congressional district election[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joseph L. Fisher (Incumbent) 103,689 54.72
Republican Vincent F. Callahan Jr. 73,616 38.85
Independent E. Stanley Rittenhouse 12,124 6.40
Write-ins 60 0.03
Total votes 189,489 100.00
Democratic hold
1978 Virginia's 10th congressional district election[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joseph L. Fisher (Incumbent) 70,892 53.35
Republican Frank Wolf 61,981 46.64
Write-ins 9 0.01
Total votes 132,882 100.00
Democratic hold
1980 Virginia's 10th congressional district election[10]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Frank Wolf 110,840 51.14
Democratic Joseph L. Fisher (Incumbent) 105,883 48.85
Write-ins 21 0.01
Total votes 216,744 100.00
Republican gain from Democratic


  • United States Congress. "Joseph L. Fisher (id: F000151)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • Fox, Stephen. "We Want No Straddlers." Wilderness 48.167 (1984): 5–19.
  1. ^ a b Pearson, Richard (1992-02-20). "JOSEPH L. FISHER, 78, DIES". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  2. ^ Mace, Emily. "Fisher, Joseph and Margaret (1914-1992; 1921-2012) | Harvard Square Library". Retrieved 2022-09-26.
  3. ^ "Joseph L. Fisher Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships". Resources for the Future. Retrieved 2022-09-26.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c "Guide to the Joseph L. Fisher papers, 1930s-1992 Joseph L. Fisher C0028". scrc.gmu.edu. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  6. ^ "RFF's Legacy". Resources for the Future. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  7. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 1974" (PDF). Clerk of the House of Representatives.
  8. ^ "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 2, 1976" (PDF). Clerk of the House of Representatives.
  9. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 1978" (PDF). Clerk of the House of Representatives.
  10. ^ "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 4, 1980" (PDF). Clerk of the House of Representatives.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 10th congressional district

January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1981
Succeeded by