Philip Fischer, entrepreneur devoted to family, Michigan and sports
Philip Fischer was a Michigan lawyer, entrepreneur and investor, but nothing mattered more than being a family man.
Married for more than 60 years, friends and family say he was rarely seen without his wife and their three daughters.
He took his girls all over, to sporting, educational and cultural events. At home, he created a hangout for the neighborhood kids at their house. He served as a softball coach, bus supervisor and driving instructor. When his daughters went away to camp, he wrote them a letter every day.
“He made it his mission in his life to do everything for his daughters and his wife, who was the love of his life,” said Daniel Syme, rabbi emeritus at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills. “He was a ‘girl dad.’ He is the only person I know who embodied that … He was a very special guy.”
Mr. Fischer died Monday, May 23, 2022, at his home in Boca Raton, Florida, after complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. He was 86.
From his unwavering devotion to family to helping out civic groups, Mr. Fischer was known for his connections.
“He was a people person,” said his daughter, Andrea Fischer Newman. “He really enjoyed people and he enjoyed helping people.”
Mr. Fischer spent years owning businesses across the state, including department stores, his family said. He also was president of the Philip B. Fischer Co. Inc., a real-estate and financial-consulting firm based in Birmingham.
Mr. Fischer’s stature led to participation in groups such as the Detroit Regional Chamber. Gov. John Engler appointed him to the Detroit Wayne County Port Authority, Newman said.
He also served on the boards of Temple Beth El and the Michigan Cancer Foundation.
His involvement dovetailed with a commitment to improving the region, she said.
“He was a cheerleader,” she said. “He always wanted to make things better and make people happy.”
Born in New York in 1935, Mr. Fischer met his wife of 64 years, Myrna, when they were undergraduates at Adelphi University on Long Island. After completing their degrees, they married in New York City in 1957.
Mr. Fischer attended George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., and started his career as a lawyer, relatives said.
Divco-Wayne, a school bus maker who employed him, sent him to Michigan in 1966 to restructure the company, Newman said.
The family first moved to Troy, then in 1972, to Bloomfield Hills and became members of Temple Beth El.
It was at the temple that the Fischers met Sylvia and Larry Lee. The couples and their families spent time together celebrating holidays, going to University of Michigan football games and gatherings at the Fischer house, including on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, to break a day of fasting, according to Sylvia Lee.
“Phil was so gracious,” said Lee, 83. “He was smart. He was cool. He wanted to make you feel good and welcome. You had his attention. You talked to him and felt like he was concentrating on you, not looking around the room.”
She said Mr. Fischer and her husband, a doctor who died three years ago, had a special bond. They talked at least once a day.
“He was very loyal friend,” said Lee. “He was a really nice man, a very affable guy.”
The men didn’t talk about their work, but often spent time on the phone talking about the stock market, sports or temple activities.
“I don’t even know what they talked about,” said Lee. “Not so much politics because, believe it or not, we’re real liberals, and I don’t think they were that much.”
She noted that politics were not as divisive as they are now. And even in spite of their political differences, Lee said the men shared similar values.
“They got along beautifully,” she said.
The state, and Metro Detroit in particular, captured Mr. Fischer’s interest, and he quickly became a devotee of its sports teams.
For years he relished having UM season football tickets and insisted his entire family spend Thanksgiving at the Detroit Lions game.
“If it wasn’t the Detroit Lions, it wasn’t Thanksgiving,” said Newman, who went on to become a UM regent and Delta Airlines senior vice president.
Besides devotion to baseball, hockey and other sports, Mr. Fischer loved tending to his daughters, whether early morning car pools for swim meets or coaching softball and more.
Later in life, he was active at Temple Beth El and a Michigan group involved with supporting cancer patients, relatives said.
“He enjoyed being involved and giving back to the community,” Newman said.
Besides his daughter, other survivors include his wife, Myrna Fischer; another daughter, Jill Fischer Rachesky; six grandchildren; and a great-grandson, Benjamin Seidman.
He was predeceased by a daughter, Loren Beth Fischer.
Funeral services were held Tuesday at Beth El Memorial Park Cemetery in Livonia. He was interred wearing his favorite UM sweats.
Memorials may be made the Philip B. and Myrna R. Fischer Fund for Alzheimer’s Research at the University of Michigan. Checks may be made to the UM and sent to the Michigan Medicine Office of Development, 777 E. Eisenhower Pkwy, Ste 650, Ann Arbor, MI 48108. Donations can also be arranged by calling (734) 764-6777 or going to https://victors.us/philipbfischer.