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Jeanne Fischer (1924–2018)

Distinguished Mentor and Pediatric PT Pioneer

Pediatric Physical Therapy: January 2019 - Volume 31 - Issue 1 - p 2
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000579

One of the first school PTs in the state of Washington (and likely the entire country) and a lifelong advocate for persons with disabilities, Jeanne died on September 4, 2018 at the age of 94 in Tacoma, Washington. A proud Husky (University of Washington: 1943-46) and Jayhawk – graduate of the PT educational program at the University of Kansas in 1948 – she started her career at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, MO. In 1958, Jeanne began a 31-year tenure as a pediatric PT for the Tacoma School District while married to her husband, Howard, and also raising three young daughters.

Jeanne was a founding member of the former APTA Section on Pediatrics (now the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy), serving as Vice-Chair of the Section from 1979-83. In 1981, she was honored with receipt of the G.E. (Bud) De Haven Award for extraordinary service to the Section, and in 1984, a certificate of appreciation for outstanding service as the pediatric representative to the APTA's initial Task Force in Clinical Specialization.

Recipient of the Lucy Blair Service Award (1983), honoring PT members whose contributions to APTA are of exceptional quality, Jeanne also received the Henry O. & Florence Kendall Award (1987) for outstanding achievement in clinical practice. In 1991, Jeanne was honored with a Distinguished Service Award from the WA State PT Association and, in 1999, the William Duncan Award from United Cerebral Palsy of Washington in recognition of commitment to young adults with cerebral palsy. And in 1996, she was honored for 50 years of membership and service by the APTA, recognized as being a pioneer in the physical therapy profession.

Over her long and distinguished career, Jeanne was a valued colleague and mentor to dozens of junior therapists. Because of her sustained mentorship, the Section (Academy) created an award in her honor in 1993: the Jeanne Fischer Distinguished Mentorship Award, bestowed annually at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting. This award recognizes an Academy member who has demonstrated sustained, altruistic mentorship beyond that expected within regular employment. Mentorship beyond clinical practice could include, but is not limited to, community service, leadership, advocacy, research and/or policy. The nominee must be a current Academy on Pediatrics member, with a minimum of 25 years of professional practice in pediatric physical therapy in clinical, academic, or management/administrative settings.

Recipients of that award have included a number of recognized leaders in pediatric PT. Jeanne very much enjoyed presenting the award herself during the many years that she was able to attend CSM. She will be sadly missed by so many of us but her mentorship legacy will live on.

Copyright © 2019 Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association