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Mark J. F. Fischer

Died: December 15, 1987

Mark had a rather amazing life. For all his talents — finishing Yale in three years, ranking scholar for two of those three years in a mathematics and philosophy major, plus excellence in intramural sports — Mark preferred the nickname of Maggot, a sobriquet most would avoid. His roommates remember him with fondness as a bright and engaging man.

After Yale Mark went on to Harvard Law School, where he was on the Law Review. At this point, Mark started to show a taste for the new ways of thinking and living that were available to us all in the 60s and 70s. He took a position as a Law and Computer Fellow at Stanford, living all the while at a commune on Family Farm Road in the hills above the University. He took great advantage of all that California had to offer, especially hiking in the Sierras. After Stanford, Mark applied for a grant from the Jane Goodall Institute to study orangutans in Malaysia, seeking to investigate the primal basis of modern legal systems and behavior. When the grant did not come through, he used his own resources to do the study, living in a tree-house in the forest for two years. Over the ensuing ten years he engaged in, inter alia, trekking in Nepal, studying music in Lima, Peru, and working as an organic rancher in Pie Town, New Mexico.

In 1984 he married his partner, Elaine, in Pittsburgh, where he had grown up, and moved to Telluride, Colorado, where he practiced law, specializing in environmental law. Also while in Colorado, he represented the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, an Institute founded to research and teach the deep fascial massage techniques developed by Ida Rolf, helping protect the Institute from claims of personal injury liability. He is fondly remembered in Telluride. For example, Telluride Arts sponsors the yearly Mark Fischer Poetry Prize that is “named in the memory of Telluride’s much-loved poet, lawyer, skier and raconteur. Mark Fischer was a daring experimenter who combined a polyglot’s command of languages with a quirky sense of humor and a passion for obtuse words. In that spirit, prizes have been awarded to the entries that best exhibits the qualities of originality, novelty, complex meaning, linguistic skill and wit. The wilder the better.”

Mark was a model of healthy life practices. He had become a Yoga master with a studio next to his law office. He was a vegetarian, ran marathons, and was an expert skier often venturing forth into the mountains for several days in winter on skis.

Notwithstanding his efforts to live healthy he could not escape his genetic predisposition for high cholesterol and, as his father had before him, died at age 42 of a coronary while skiing on a double black run in Telluride.