2019-2020 Benefactor of the Year: Joe Fischer

Joe Fischer

Joe Fischer with his painting of Lake Sacajawea that is part of LCC's permanent art collection.

The Lower Columbia College (LCC) Foundation has named Joe Fischer as the 2019-20 Benefactor of the Year.

Benefactor honorees have a history of providing charitable financial support to the foundation, and/or significant volunteer service to the college. Most notably, contributions from honorees have had major impacts on the college, its programs, students, and the community. “It is with great pleasure that we announce and honor Joe Fischer as this year's Benefactor of the Year,” said Rich Gushman, LCC Foundation Board Chair.

Joe served in the US Air Force from 1951-55 as an air traffic controller and graphic artist. He later attended the University of Oregon, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1960 and Master of Fine Arts in 1963. From 1963-65, Joe served as Director of the Craft Center at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he administered and supervised craft facilities, the auto shop, and supervised staff and programs for Air Force personnel and their families.

Joe went on to work for State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo from 1965-1994, where he designed and planned a new Craft Center facility featuring studios for pottery, weaving, photography, and jewelry programs. His tenure also included talent recruitment and orientation of new staff and faculty, coordination of art exhibitions and demonstrations, and community education workshops. While at SUNY, Joe served as Art Gallery Director from 1966-70. While living in Buffalo, he also worked as an Adjunct Professor of the arts for Empire State College until 1994.

In 1996, Joe married his late wife, Alona Forsberg Fischer, and they happily made their home in Longview. Joe's philanthropic support of LCC includes establishment of the Joe and Alona Fischer Art Scholarship (1999), the Carl Forsberg Business Endowed Scholarship and Carl and Alona Forsberg Art Endowed Scholarship (2018), men's basketball, art gallery, and Connecting Waters (LCC’s first Rose Center for the Arts Gallery Exhibit, held in 2008). Joe also graciously painted a mural in LCC's Head Start building, and his acrylic painting entitled, “Johari Jumping with Dany,” was recently featured in LCC's literary arts magazine, the Salal Review. “Joe has been a visible and involved supporter of LCC throughout the years, and we are pleased to honor his contributions and support of the arts,” said Kendra Sprague, LCC Vice President of Foundation, HR & Legal Affairs.

Joe's work has been featured in 25 juried art exhibitions in New York, Canada, Texas, Oregon, the Midwest, and at LCC. He has received numerous awards for his art, including an “interrupted landscape” painting of Lake Sacajawea that was selected for LCC's permanent collection in 2005. Joe's community service work includes that of advisor, coordinator, program assistant and art chair for various festivals, auctions and at SUNY. “I have always been very devoted to students, regardless of whether the work was paid or unpaid. I enjoyed teaching and used it to introduce students to the arts, and inspired many student to go on and become serious artists,” shares Joe.

Sharing the love of arts has been a mainstay throughout his career and life, and it continues to inspire Joe's passion and generosity for helping others through gifts of time and philanthropy. “Joe clearly understands the important impact that community colleges have in their communities. His generosity will provide support to students and art programs at LCC for years to come,” said Chris Bailey, LCC President.

Joe will be honored at the 2020 LCC Foundation Horns & Halos Gala in September.

For more information, please contact Kendra Sprague, (360) 442-2121 or

Contact the Lower Columbia College Foundation

We look forward to hearing from you! Make an appointment by calling (360) 442-2130. Walk-ins welcome during regular business hours. The Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your gifts are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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