School 11


Dawn S. Fisher

January 31, 1930 ~ September 25, 2018 (age 88)

Dr. Helene Dawn Smith Fisher was born Jan 31, 1930 in Yonkers, NY to Lillian Blashow and Harold Smith. She grew up in Goldens Bridge, NY and attended Central High School in Washington, DC and Walton High School in the Bronx where she graduated in 1946.

Dawn got an academic scholarship to attend New York University where she studied English, French, Philosophy and Mathematics. After graduating, she worked at the Courant Institute of Mathematics & Mechanics in Astor Place for a couple of years as well as at Econometrix, Inc which made economic predictions for investors. At 21, she got a teaching Fellowship to attend the University of Miami in Mathematics. It was there she met her husband, Gordon M. Fisher. She received her Master’s in 1953 and went on to teach at Tulane University in New Orleans.

She was married June 19, 1956 in City Hall, New York and changed her name from Helene Dawn Smith to Dawn Smith Fisher. After marrying, she and her husband went to teach at the University of Miami. Daughter, Andrea F. Rowland, was born in Coral Gables in 1957. They then moved to Baton Rouge where she taught full time at Louisiana State University while her husband got his PhD. After that, Gordon took a job at Princeton University where daughter, Jennifer Fisher was born in 1960. Dawn then taught graduate courses at the University of Pennsylvania and at Douglass College at Rutgers University.

In 1962, the Fisher family moved to Dunedin, New Zealand to take up posts at the University of Otago. After 3 years, they moved to the new University of Waikato in Hamilton, NZ. In 1967, they moved to Harrisonburg, VA to teach at James Madison University. After a few years, Dawn took a job teaching at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA. After her daughter, Jennifer, graduated from college in 1983, Dawn moved to Charlottesville to get her PhD at the University of Virginia. She and her husband lived in married graduate student housing. She was awarded her PhD in Applied Mathematics in 1986. Her dissertation “Configuration Dependent Load Potential” was further developed and published in the Journal of Applied Mathematics  and Physics as “Conservative configuration dependent loads on bounded surfaces.” Other publications included “An Analysis of some Body Forces and Surface Forces That Are Together Conservative” in the International Journal of Solids and Structures and “Pressure Potential in Two Dimensions” in the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Journal and “Configuration dependent pressure potentials” in the Journal of Elasticity.

After receiving her PhD, Dawn returned with her husband to teach at JMU. She retired shortly before her 70th birthday. She and her husband survived a dramatic house fire in the summer of 2004. In 2006, Dawn and Gordon moved to Westchester, New York near her childhood home and where her daughter Jennifer and husband David had recently moved. In 2013, they moved to nearby Ridgefield, Connecticut where they lived until passing.

Beloved by her family, Dawn passed peacefully on September 25, 2018 with her daughter Jennifer by her side. Her love, humor and unwavering support for her family will be missed.

As well as her daughters and son-in-law, she is survived by grandsons Liam Rowland and Daniel Berger.

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No services are to be held at this time.

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