Skip over navigation

It is with sadness that the department recognizes the passing of Al Fischer, faculty 1956-1984

With sadness and respect, The Department notes the death of Alfred Fischer, faculty 1956-1984, on July 2, 2017 at the age 95.  Al took “early” retirement from Princeton in order to fulfill a promise he made to his wife Winnie to move to California while still young enough to appreciate the warm climate.  An offer from The University of Southern California made this move possible, and he continued to teach and advise students at USC until a second “retirement” in 1991.
 
During his 28 years on the Princeton faculty, Al supervised numerous undergraduate and graduate students and, along with his wife and family, was at the heart of The Department.
 
Mark Logsdon ’72 recalls how Al’s generosity pointed him in the direction of geology.  “As a young boy, I had collected fossils I found in the Traverse City area of Michigan,” Mark recalls. “I kept a suite that seemed to me the “best”... When I came to campus…I trooped down to Guyot, went to the departmental office, and asked if there was a geologist to whom I could speak about my fossils. They rang up to Dr. Fischer, and he…greeted me politely and then spent much of an hour looking at my little Devonian fossils carefully (first hand lens I ever saw) and talking to me about what they were, what they told us about the environment of that part of Michigan at the time the corals lived, and how old they were. Took me over to a geologic map of North America, and talked about what it illustrated. And then thanked me for bringing these to show him…”   
 
As a researcher, Al was a leading geoscientist of his generation.  He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and received numerous awards including the Mary Clark Thompson Medal for “leadership and research in the discovery of the cyclical and period nature of the sedimentary record in the geologic past and its connections with earth-system change, including biodiversity.” 
 
For a comprehensive review of Al’s life and research, see