Memories of Penn State’s Fran Fisher

Nittany Lion athletic department officials reflect on the late, great radio play-by-play man.


At Penn State football Media Day last August, new athletic director Sandy Barbour had a chance to meet Nittany Lion royalty.

His name was Fran Fisher.

Though he was 90 years old at the time and not very mobile, Penn State's retired radio play-by-play man was still a regular at many Nittany Lion press conferences and practices. At Media Day, Fisher was in a walker in which he could also sit and be wheeled around, and his son Jeff brought him over to Barbour.

After shaking hands and introducing himself, Fisher said, “They tell me I'm gonna like you.”

Barbour felt relieved. Then Fisher hit her with one of his patented zingers.

“I'm not so sure,” he said.

Recalling the meeting while on Penn State's promotional Coaches Caravan last week, Barbour literally laughed out loud.

“Believe it or not,” she said, her voice turning very sincere, “that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.”

Fisher died in his sleep May 14. As sad as his passing was, nearly everyone who remembers him does so with a smile.

Such was the case on the second and final leg of the Caravan last week. Since Fisher's viewing was last Monday, most folks on the Caravan had a chance to attend.

However, as the Caravan ran Tuesday through Thursday, and it was far too late to reschedule venues, the folks on the bus tour were unable to attend Fisher's funeral services Tuesday. But he was still in everyone's thoughts and discussions.

“Of course Fran is the subject of conversation,” said Roger Williams, the outgoing director of the Penn State Alumni Association. “… This guy was Mr. Penn State. He was our ambassador in so many ways -- long into his retirement.”

On Memorial Day, we thought it would be nice to get some of the Caravan participants' memories of Fisher. It's also kind of fitting since, in 1942, he enlisted in the Navy so he could serve in World War II.

Check out the video above. Please note that PSU football coach James Franklin previously addressed Fisher's passing.


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