How doors to harmonious relationships have been opened in history

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Zachary Fisher, A Helping Hand to U.S. Armed Forces (September 26, 1910 – June 4, 1999)

Zachary Fisher was a tradesman, a builder.  Over his lifetime, he and his extended family have built many prominent structures.  If you are curious to know where they are, you can investigate their locations on the internet by looking up Zachary’s name.

Zachary Fisher

Zachary Fisher

However, from the perspective of Harmony Keys, Zachary Fisher did something far more important than constructing towers at prominent addresses.  He was a man who built harmony in the lives of people.  How did he do that?  Zachary Fisher became dedicated to aiding the U.S. Armed Forces in a myriad of ways.  One way was that he contributed millions from his own wealth to improve the lives of families whose loved ones have been injured or killed in the military service of our country.

Who was Zachary Fisher?  Let’s start with his father, Karl Fisher, a stonemason.  Karl emigrated from Lithuania to New York in the early 1900s and went to work in his trade.  Zachary was born in Brooklyn in 1910.  Very early in his life, Zachary, like all of his brothers, was trained by his father as a bricklayer.  At age 16, Zachary left high school to work in construction.  When WW II came along in 1941, he was rejected for service due to an injured leg.  In lieu of service, he aided the war effort through his construction skills by building fortifications on the eastern coast.  It was the beginning of his desire to aid the U.S. Armed Forces.

Over the years, Zachary had many projects to assist various parts our military, including the preservation of an historic aircraft carrier and the development of a naval museum.  Those projects involving equipment and buildings were important, but Zachary seemed to yearn for a very personal, close focus on military men and women and their families.  So in 1982, he and his wife, Elizabeth, founded the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Armed Services Foundation. Through the Foundation, Zachary contributed to the families of the victims of the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983. Since then, the Foundation has donated $25,000 to each of numerous military families who lost loved ones under tragic circumstances.  The Foundation also provides scholarship funds to active and former service members and their families.

In 1990, a wonderful stroke of opportunity presented itself.  Pauline Trost, wife of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Carlisle Trost, spoke to Zachary and Elizabeth of the urgent need for temporary lodging for families at major military medical centers.  Zachary and Elizabeth immediatelyformed the Fisher House Foundation and initiated the Fisher House program, dedicating over $20 million to the construction of a nationwide network of free, temporary, comfortable lodging units for families of hospitalized veterans and military personnel.  One year later, in 1991, the first two Fisher Houses were built and ready to serve.  The first was near the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda; the second was near Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.  Today there are more than 60 units operating across America and one in the United Kingdom.

We had never heard of Fisher Houses and wanted to know more so we studied an interview with one of Zachary’s grand nephews, Ken Fisher and Ken’s wife,Tammy, which was conducted by Philanthropy Magazine in Fall 2010.  The following notes are based on that interview and on the Fisher House Foundation website.  The story is thrilling.

Department of Defense Photo

Learning to Climb Again

Picture this: The Fisher House Foundation builds multi-unit residential properties within walking distance of major military and V.A. medical centers.  Each unit has between 6 and 21 suites and can host 12 to 42 family members at one time.  Each incorporates kitchen, laundry, recreation, and library space.  Books and toys are provided.  Once the units are completed, they are turned over to the government.  When a service member or a veteran is hospitalized, his or her family can live at the house, free of charge, for as long as they need to stay, close to their service member or vet during recuperation.

Since inception, Fisher House Foundation has provided approximately 5 million nights of free lodging with home-away-from-home comfort, giving military families time to heal.  And the program is growing exponentially.

A striking fact about the outreach established by Zachary Fisher is that it seems non-partisan.  His generosity, and the grassroots philanthropy of his family, have been applauded and recognized over and over by leaders of many administrations:  Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, as well as Margaret Thatcher and the late Yitzhak Rabin.  In 1998, Zachary received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bill Clinton in honor of his wide-ranging contributions on behalf of the young men and women in the US Armed Forces.  In 2010, Barak Obama announced the proceeds from his children’s book “Of Thee I Sing” would benefit Fisher House Foundation’s “Heroes’ Legacy Scholarships” for the sons and daughters of fallen/disabled service members.

Without a doubt, Zachary Fisher was a man who built more than buildings.  He created harmony among human beings.

We signed up to receive the Fisher House Foundation newsletter.  If you would like to learn more about Fisher outreach and how you can help, contact Fisher House™ Foundation, Inc., 111 Rockville Pike, Suite 420, Rockville, MD 20850, (888) 294-8560, http://www.fisherhouse.org

Video

Willard Herman Scott, Jr. – A Man of the Centuries (b. 1934)

1990 Emmy Awards NOTE: Permission granted to c...

1990 Emmy Awards NOTE: Permission granted to copy, publish, broadcast or post any of my photos, but please credit “photo by Alan Light” if you can. Thanks. Scanned from the original 35MM film negative. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Willard Scott loves to celebrate life: witness his heart-warming tributes to centenarians. Hired by NBC in 1980 to do weather for The Today Show, Scott was held in high regard by audiences.  One admirer suggested he give birthday greetings to people who had reached 100 years of age, or greater, as part of his weather report.  Scott liked the idea and began the tributes in 1983.  Even though he left the show in 1996, he periodically makes appearances to deliver the tributes which are now sponsored by Smuckers Jellies.

Because of his generous remembrances of the aging, and for other reasons, I hereby give Willard Scott the title: “A Man of the Centuries.”  An additional title belonging to Scott is that he is recognized by many to be the original  “Ronald McDonald.”  Before I delve into that amazing story, and speaking of titles, I might as well tell you, in the spirit of full disclosure, that I feel a special affinity to Willard Scott because my last boss-lady dubbed my husband with the nickname “Ronald McDonald.” My husband didn’t look anything like Ronald McDonald, nor like Willard Scott, but his first name was Ron.  He took a liking to my boss’s cheerful greeting, “Howdy, Ronald McDonald!” (she was from West Virginia) each time she saw him.  After she died, he often reminisced about her habit of tagging people with “character monikers.”  She called me “Snoopy!”

Willard Scott as Ronald McDonald, from the fir...

Willard Scott as Ronald McDonald, from the first of three pre-recorded television advertisements to feature Ronald. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But back to Ronald McDonald.   In Willard Scott’s book, The Joy of Living, (1982) Scott wrote that he was asked by McDonalds to create the role of Ronald McDonald. One wonders if the idea of Ronald McDonald was born from a previous children’s character that Scott brought to life called Bozo the Clown. For it was from 1959-1962 that Scott appeared on children’s programs produced by local DC TV stations as Bozo the Clown, and he subsequently enacted Ronald McDonald from 1963-1966.  We look at the photo showing Scott with a box on his head and a cup on his nose and realize that the evolving Ronald McDonald, somewhere along the line, hired a new costume designer and a different make-up artist.  AND today the modern Ronald McDonald persona, embodied by numerous actors, reaches far and wide into many kinds of special events, parties, and hospitals.  But let’s not forget that the trend-setter for the Ronald McDonald character was Willard Scott.   Just being himself, to this day, Scott brings cheer and good-will wherever he goes.

There’s another large part of Scott’s life that touches a major chord with me since I am a novice radio show host myself.  Are any of you old enough to remember the Joy Boys Radio Show?  Well, it was aired nightly out of NBC owned WRC-AM in Washington DC (1955-1972) and two more years out of another DC radio station.  Who were the Joy Boys?

Ed Walker (l) and Willard Scott, The Joy Boys ...

Ed Walker (l) and Willard Scott, The Joy Boys (1965) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They were Willard Scott and Ed Walker and improvised comedy was their schtick.  Ed was blind, in fact, blind since birth, so their method of preparation for the show was unique.  They discussed a situation to use as basis for the broadcast, then developed characters which their voices would portray, and Willard wrote out some lead lines to use as the “situation” unrolled on the show.  Before the show, Ed would memorize their discussion.  Then they’d go live and proceed to entertain, enrich, uplift, and encourage all those within earshot.  Just a couple of Joy Boys, the two men remained fast friends.

If I had a trophy or medal, I’d hand it to Willard Herman Scott along with the title “A Man of the Centuries” because he has reverence for the aging, he has a sense of humor, and he vigorously celebrates life.  Do these activities promote harmony in our society?  Indeed.  Carry on, Mr. Scott.

Video

Walter Elias Disney – Father of Mickey Mouse and Father of Urban Improvement (1901 – 1966)

Today I drove my friend to the airport where she was boarding a plane headed for Disneyland.  Our conversation about Walt Disney and his brother Roy O. Disney, young visionaries in early animated film production, spurred me to get busy on my planned blog about Walt Disney.  I want to talk about why his contributions to society mean so much to all of us.

Walt Disney was a rare man in history, who focused on his family and friends, all the while creating characters and stories to entertain and bring harmony to the world.  He was truly a man of harmony.  Still today, his creations stimulate harmonious relationships in families.  Further, he was a man of the future: he designed a prototype community of tomorrow for improved urban living.Image

Roy O. and Walt Disney on the day they opened Disney Studios, October 16, 1923.  In this rare historical photo, the ladies are not identified.

In 1923, Walt and Roy opened the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio in the rear of a small Los Angeles realty company office.   They soon moved to larger quarters and renamed their company: Disney Studios.  By 1928, Mickey Mouse had been born, followed by a host of famous, lovable characters known to us all.

Walt Disney introduces each of the Seven Dwarf...

Walt Disney introduces each of the Seven Dwarfs in a scene from the original 1937 ”Snow White (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A mere eleven years later, the brothers released their first feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Their company flourished.

When World War II began, Walt and Roy focused their entire efforts on aiding American involvement in the war.  Donald Duck became very busy as the star of films to educate both the American public and military personnel.  After the war ended, Disney returned to producing family films.

The construction of Disneyland

Walt Disney views the construction of Disneyland

By 1950, Walt was deep into plans for his long-held dream to build Disneyland, although Roy was not so sure the project was realistic. Walt forged ahead, finding land, drawing plans, and seeking investors. Construction began on July 16, 1954.

Do you get the idea that Walt followed his dreams?  Keep in mind that he did so without impugning anyone’s reluctance to join him, and there were many detractors along the way.  Would you say he was an advocate for harmonious relationships?  Of course, we don’t know what he was like behind the scenes, but we do read that he was turned down by major television corporations, and laughed at by leaders who viewed his dream for a family entertainment park as “grandiose.”  He kept developing his vision and working with Bruce W. McNeil of McNeil Construction.  The entire project team, assembled by Walt, brought Disneyland to fruition on July 17, 1955.  The famous Disney characters greeted guests, and the party was launched.

Disneyland employee cafeteria in 1961

Disneyland employee cafeteria, 1961

If you closely examine the photo on the right, how many of the characters can you identify?  Is that Snow White in front picking up lunch in the Disneyland employee cafeteria?  And who is behind her?  That guy at the end of the line will have to take off his head before he can eat!

The energy, humor, and clear thinking that Walt Disney put into creating Disneyland was magnificent.  Whether he knew it or not, he was generating a positive influence on lives for generations to come.  We can look back now and say “the rest is history.”

Near the end of his life, Walt Disney had another burning idea which he felt required action.  Sometime in the 1960s, he began to think about the future life his many grandchildren would have … living in crowded, crime-ridden, modern cities.  He studied urban planning books and talked with leaders in urban development.  Purchasing 27,400 acres of Florida swamp land, he began to lay plans for another Disney park, but one which provided more than entertainment.  In fact, the entertainment section of the park would be in the far north corner of the property, and the community of the future would occupy the major front portion.  He wanted to build a clean, efficient, safe community where 20,000 people could rent homes and live in peace and harmony on the property.  Each adult renter would have a job in the community.

These plans embodied the inception of the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT.)  “EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are emerging from the forefront of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed. It will always be showcasing and testing and demonstrating new materials and new systems.” (Walt Disney, October 27, 1966) 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxC_a7qnGi8

We all know the EPCOT which Walt Disney envisioned was never realized.  After his death in 1966, officials in the Disney corporation constructed a replica of the Magic Kingdom on the Florida property, built some hotels, and opened the Walt Disney World Resort in1971.  Much later in 1982, developers launched what is called the EPCOT theme park within Disney World.  EPCOT includes two major sections: Future World (technology pavilions) and World Showcase (international pavilions.)

Did Walt Disney fail because the EPCOT  he designed did not materialize?  No!  What he did was inspire others to pursue their own dream, but on a different scale and in a different way.  Walt Disney’s legacy is that he used his talents … his whole being … to bring harmony into his own life and into the lives of those around him.  Take a look at the crowd surrounding Walt Disney.  You and I are there.

Albert Einstein Lived His Life for Others (1879-1955)

Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany.  Look at his eyes in this photo where he is believed to be three years old.  Notice the heavy lids and the triangular shape of the eyes, with the descension of the corners toward the ears.   Would you recognize those famous eyes anywhere?  Well, take a look at some of his later photos below.

English: at the age of three years. This is be...

English: at the age of three years. This is believed to be the oldest known photograph of Einstein. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Albert’s parents were middle-class non-practicing Jews and raised their son and his younger sister largely without religious training, although for some period of his life, Albert became a devout Jew.

Albert loved classical music as a child and played violin.  He was a superior student in his Munich elementary school, but was always plagued by his very slow speech habit.  Some believe he was carefully planning what he would say before he said it, an excellent habit for all of us to develop, wouldn’t you say?

English: Author: Anonymous Date: 1893 Source: ...

English: Author: Anonymous Date: 1893 Source: http://faculty.randolphcollege.edu/tmichalik/einstein.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In addition to his strict Prussian education, Albert was tutored at home by a family friend who introduced him to a children’s science book and it was then that Albert began to wonder about light waves, a subject which would fascinate him for many years.

You know Albert Einstein as the man who created the general theory of relativity.  He explained it in simple terms: “When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second; when you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”  He had a knack for describing complicated ideas in easy-to-understand language.  That talent was foundational in his life-long effort to understand and explain physical phenomena.

Einstein’s nimble mind dwelt on more than physics.  He was a man who studied human nature and that is what interests us here.  Possibly based on his observations, he came to the conclusion, in the final analysis, that he would live his life for others.  He said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

Like any human beings, his life was not without foibles, mistakes, failures, and heartbreak.  In that regard, he was no different from any of us.  But he was unique in the sense that he was a genius in science and mathematics, and he possessed a giant gift of creativity and imagination.  Therefore, it may be instructive for us to look at some of his interactions with his fellow human beings.  When I first started to research his relationships, I did not like him much.  But I changed my mind, over time.  Perhaps you will have the same reaction.

Let’s begin with his first wife, Mileva Maric.

English: Albert Einstein and his first wife, M...

English: Albert Einstein and his first wife, Mileva Português: Albert Einstein e sua primeira esposa, Mileva Marić (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With a determination born out of a great love, Albert was fixated on marrying Mileva whom he met when they were both students of physics in Zurich.  Mileva was older than Albert.  She was from rural Serbia and an Eastern Orthodox Christian.  None of her qualities or circumstances were pleasing to Einstein’s parents.   Despite their vigorous objections, he continued to see Mileva and in January, 1902 Mileva went home to her Serbian parents and gave birth to their daughter, Lieserl.  However, it is not known if Lieserl died or if she was placed for adoption.  Many years after Einstein’s death, a letter was discovered in which Einstein wrote about baby Lieserl’s bout with scarlet fever.  In the book titled Einstein’s Daughter: The Search for Lieserl, author Michele Zackheim reports on her search for details about Lieserl’s fate.

In order to marry and support Mileva, Albert needed a job, but he had trouble getting work.  Finally he was recommended for a clerk position in the Swiss patent office.  His father, on his death-bed, gave his blessing for Albert to marry Mileva and they exchanged vows in January, 1903.   They had two sons, Hans Albert and Eduard, and they remained married until 1919, but all was not well.  What were the problems?  It is reported that Albert was away from home a great deal due to the increasing demands of his expanding career as a professor and theorist.  He and Mileva also argued about their children and about money.   Believing that his marriage was over for all intent and purpose, Albert began an affair with his cousin, Elsa Lowenthal, around 1913.  By that time, he had achieved a great deal of fame with his scientific papers and he had become the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics at the University of Berlin where he served from 1913 – 1933.

Ultimately, in 1919, Albert divorced Mileva and married Elsa.   They had two daughters, Ilse and Margot.  Elsa passed away in 1936.  Albert never remarried.

Elsa Einstein with her husband

Elsa Einstein with her husband (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I may not condone some of Einstein’s behaviors with his family, I was not there in his shoes and I do not know what factors impacted his choices.  I do not believe that he and Mileva abandoned baby Lieserl .  The available evidence leads to the conclusion that the baby contracted scarlet fever and died.  Albert loved Mileva deeply.  But circumstances changed and perhaps Mileva changed.  We do not know.

What is clear is that Einstein lived life to its fullest.  He appreciated being alive.  When he suffered disappointments he picked himself up and regrouped, always thinking about possibilities.  Without question, he was one of the greatest theorists and thinkers of the 20th Century.  Read his famous quotes to learn more about his philosophy of life and how he dedicated his life for the good of others.  He gave of his mind to all of humanity.

Below is a rare photo, circulated on the internet, of Albert Einstein enjoying a day near the water.  May we all live life to the fullest. Viva Albert   (Please note announcement of Einstein’s death in the New York World-Telegram below.  Look at those eyes!)

8e836a1c0832e84550a241d18bf26b34

English: News headline announcing his death Ca...

English: News headline announcing his death Category:Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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