Daniel John Fischer, 46, of Conifer, CO, formerly of Denver, PA, passed away on November 4th in Denver, CO, after a brief battle with cancer. Family was by his side.
‘Dan' was born in Pittsburgh, PA, to Rick and Joan Fischer, on June 1, 1971. He spent his public school years in Denver, PA and graduated in 1989 from Cocalico High School, after which he attended Grove City College, in Grove City, PA, graduating magna cum laude in 1994 with a B.S. in Physics.
Before moving to Colorado in 2011, Dan taught Physics at several south-central PA high schools. Beloved by his students, he authored his own physics labs, learning experiences that integrated what was learned in the classroom with hands-on, real-world applications. His students were enthralled with labs that taught them that physics' ultimate use is explaining the world around them, and that a young person can illustrate that scientific 'explanation' by making, and demonstrating, machines and experiments through ‘thinking outside the box' in their own unique way.
The fact that Dan continued to hear from former students many years after they were a member of his class served as evidence of the legacy he left as an effective, respected, beloved teacher who knew how to relate to, and bring out the potential of, his students. He was fondly remembered by his students long after they sat in his classroom, and they sought to share with him all that they were doing long after their school years ended.
For several years Dan also served as a mentor with the Big Brothers organization, giving of his time, energy and talents to young boys who were in need of a stable male role model who was willing to share his time with them on a regular basis, whether those experiences included attending ball games, doing woodworking, making meals over a campfire, or exploring the many hiking trails in south-central PA.
He was also a quest leader in the Vision Quest organization, a group that offers hope for young people who have been in trouble with the law. Along with other quest leaders, Dan led many ‘quests' into remote parts of the country, teaching young people to rely on themselves in a wilderness setting, and to gain a sense of personal worth, independence and individual achievement.
Before his passing, he was the owner/operator of Kershaw Designs in Lakewood, CO, a business he named after his beloved grandfather, John Kershaw, retailing custom-made radio-controlled cars. In that position, he sponsored several young people who have since become proficient and nationally-recognized participants in the r.c. car circuit. Skeletons of several of his larger and more powerful custom cars have also been used as mine detectors in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Dan's passion was the beauty and history of the American west. He knew and studied the history of much of the west – history that only made its way into more obscure reference books, or letters of those pioneers who settled the area. He and his beloved dog, Loki, spent many years hiking and mountain biking in the more remote areas of the Rockies, exploring little-known homestead areas and ghost towns, and the two of them, sometimes with others, sometimes on their own, climbed more than a dozen ‘14ers', mountains in the Rockies whose altitudes are more than 14,000 feet. Dan was an avid outdoorsman, who rarely met a challenging hiking trail that he didn't want to explore, either by foot or on his mountain bike, sometimes for days, or a scalable mountain whose summit he didn't seek to see firsthand.
From his early days in public school to his days in the physics classroom, to his days of building from scratch custom radio-controlled cars whose size and power often surpassed those of the giants of the industry, Dan was always known as a brilliant, think-outside-the-box ‘science guy'.
But those who knew him best will remember him most fondly as a man of immense courage, who despite serious trials, including his final illness, always embraced an unbridled optimism, a non-complaining nature, and who, even in his last days, never lost his wonderfully contagious sense of humor.
Dan leaves behind his father and mother, Rick and Joan Fischer, of Reinholds, PA, a sister, Amanda Fischer, wife of Matthew Robertson, of Monrovia, Maryland, and many friends who knew him as a ‘one of a kind' larger-than-life young man who has left a unique and memorable legacy that will not soon be forgotten.
It is requested that anyone who might be interested in making a donation in Dan's memory consider one of two worthwhile groups which Dan held in highest regard, and for which he was planning to do volunteer work before he fell ill:
(1) The Colorado High School Mountain Cycling League, an organization whose vision is to provide students with exceptional mountain biking opportunities with the goal of building strong minds, bodies, and character.
(2) Colorado STEM Education, a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math organization that seeks to focus on rigorous real-world lessons that will help students apply science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a context that makes real world connections, rather than just theoretical book-learning.
A private memorial service for family and friends is planned.