Zachary Fisher, 88, a New York builder and philanthropist known nationally for his contributions to U.S. military families and heritage, died of cancer June 4 at a hospital in New York. He had homes in New York and Florida.
Mr. Fisher, a member of the Fisher Brothers building organization, began working in construction as a teenager. Today the organization has built, owns or manages some of the largest commercial and residential buildings in the New York area.
Mr. Fisher, who was injured in a construction accident, was turned down by the Marine Corps for service in World War II, then spent much of the rest of his life showing his feelings for the U.S. military and its people.
He was the prime mover and donor of $25 million behind the Intrepid Museum Foundation established in the 1970s. The foundation refurbished the old carrier Intrepid, a fighting veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The ship was refurbished as an air and space museum and is anchored on the Hudson River.
Nearly a half million people a year visit the former flattop, now the world's largest marine museum. Children study such subjects as naval history and physics in classes at the museum, where they also can enroll in a cadet corps.
Mr. Fisher also donated funds to assist military survivors and the families of veterans. His Fisher Armed Services Foundation assisted the families of sailors killed in the accidental explosion of a gun turret aboard the battleship Iowa in 1989. It also gave $10,000 to the families of each of the 241 Americans who died in the explosion of the Marine Corps barracks that was bombed in Beirut in 1983.
Mr. Fisher also established the Fisher House Program in 1990, in which the Fisher Brothers built a series of "homes away from home" for families of service personnel who were undergoing hospitalization away from home. Five of the 26 homes are in the Washington area.
In recognition of his philanthropic endeavors for the U.S. military, Mr. Fisher was awarded a 1988 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In addition to his philanthropic work for the U.S. military, Mr. Fisher also had contributed millions to Alzheimer's disease research, Jewish organizations and the Ronald Reagan Library.
Survivors include his wife of 50 years, the former Elizabeth Kenowsky, who lives in New York and Florida; a stepson; a brother; and a sister.