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Thursday, July 25, 2024


Al Campbell – Compass Points 5.31.2006

By Al Campbell

In these changing times, when ideas float in the breeze like feathers and black and white turns grayer each day, it’s reassuring to find someone who hasn’t wavered from her beliefs through the years. Such a stalwart lady is Ruth Fisher.
 To use her name without the tagline “environmentalist” seems almost an affront, but I hope she’ll forgive me just this once for that slight.
 Down through the years, Fisher has not flinched one iota from her beliefs that man is stupidly doing irreparable damage to Mother Earth, and we shall pay the price, dearly, for those unthinking actions.
 Years ago, when we both were younger and full of more vinegar than today, she protested the destruction of marshlands in Upper Township, standing in the way of heavy trucks that were about to harm the wetlands.
 Before many “green” folks realized the worth of solar energy, she advocated its use. Sadly, few listened, and fewer hooked up their hot water heaters to solar panels to spare the high utility bills many bear monthly.
 Not one easily intimidated, Fisher is one of the few I’ve ever seen in this county who will stand up at a public meeting and pepper officials with questions.
 Flustered elected members of the body politic at first try to make light of what she says. That never works. They will try to be condescending. That doesn’t work either. Sometimes they will be overly reactive to her; still, the lady will not budge from her convictions.
 At various times in the past, she has confronted the illustrious Board of Chosen Freeholders with opposition to such things as:
 * Putting a bounty on red foxes, when the critters were devouring more chickens than kids devour Chicken McNuggets.
 * Using chemicals of any sort to control weeds or insects.
 She will not rest until Susan Negersmith’s killer is found, tried and convicted of the heinous slaying that, 16 years ago, claimed the life of that young woman in Wildwood.
 At other times, she has advocated the cause of such silent things as trees, and even preservation of whales.
 Since trees can’t speak, and don’t vote, and often get in the way of “progress,” Fisher is seemingly be the only person in this county who cares enough about things older than we to seek to save them from the ax.
 At last week’s freeholder meeting, she spoke once more against her nemesis, the county Mosquito Department. Then, she told me, as if by “accident,” the very next morning, at 7:30, a county Mosquito Department helicopter zoomed over her house.
 Not one to take such buzzing lightly, she immediately dialed county freeholders (who of course were not at the phone at that wee hour.) Her message was answered, and she was told that the pilots did, in fact, cross her air space while doing a “survey” of the Delaware Bay marshes.
 Take that for what it’s worth. Fisher has her own take on the happening.
 Time, she tells me, has taken its toll. She would like to go to more public meetings, advocate for more causes, speak against more destruction of the fragile environment she loves so dearly, but she’s only one person. The body weakens; the spirit is fiery as ever.
 I suppose many officials would like it very much if Fisher would simply go away, not bother them, or at least keep her notions to herself. However, I believe, as Rudyard Kipling penned in his ode “The Overland Mail,” “While the breath’s in his mouth, he must bear without fail, in the name of the Empress, the overland mail.”
 That “overland mail” Fisher bears is not always happy stuff. In fact, it’s often deemed troublesome because it confounds pompous men who aren’t supposed be bedeviled by common folk.
 Never mind, Fisher will keep her appointed rounds. Maybe in the hinterland, there is another just like her to take up those causes. We’ll see, but I fear her feisty spirit is unique, and not many are ready to fill her shoes.
 One never knows what she’ll be up to next, because Ruth loves to end her phone calls with the veiled warning, “More soon.”

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