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Memorial parade marshal Fisher to highlight the art of remembrance

Updated 6:50 am, Monday, May 27, 2013

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  • Leonard Fisher, grand marshal of the 2013 Westport Memorial Day parade. Photo: Contributed Photo
    Leonard Fisher, grand marshal of the 2013 Westport Memorial Day parade. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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World War II veteran and accomplished artist Leonard Everett Fisher has been named grand marshal of Monday's Memorial Day parade in Westport.

Fisher, 88, served with the U.S. Army's 30th Engineer Topographic Battalion and helped create maps for Allied campaigns in the Mediterranean, European and Pacific theaters.

After the war he worked as an artist, illustrating more than 200 books for young readers, authoring more than 90 books, and designing 10 United States postage stamps.

Fisher and his wife, Margery, have been Westport residents since 1957, and he was a founding member of the Westport-Weston Arts Council (now called the Westport Arts Center).

Examples of Fisher's art are included in the Library of Congress.

"I think it's a great honor," Fisher said of his selection as parade marshal. "I'm really humbled by it and left a little speechless."

William Vornkahl, president of the Westport Veterans Council, said Fisher met the two most important criteria for serving as the Memorial Day honoree.

"One: a great war record; and two: doing something good in the community. And Leonard really mounts up to both this year," said Vornkahl, who for the last 43 years has helped organize the local Memorial Day parade.

Fisher enlisted in the army on Dec. 1, 1942. He was stationed in North Africa and later the Hawaiian Islands. His work on maps helped advance the Allies' operations in Italy, France, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Japan.

He was honorably discharged Jan. 22, 1946, and later attended Yale University's School of Art, earning a bachelor's degree and a master's in fine arts.

But Fisher's interest in art began much earlier, he said.

"I was on that path when I was 2 years old. I'm a third- generation doodler. This has been in my DNA all my life," said Fisher, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Memorial Day parade steps off at 9 a.m. Monday at Saugatuck Elementary School on Riverside Avenue. The parade route runs north to Route 1 and heads east over the Post Road bridge, turns left onto Myrtle Avenue and passes a review stand in front of Town Hall. The parade will turn left on Main Street and end in Parker-Harding Plaza.

Following the parade, First Selectman Gordon Joseloff and Fisher will give brief speeches on Veterans' Memorial Green, located between Main Street and Myrtle Avenue.

A wreath in honor of fallen soldiers will be placed in front of the World War I Doughboy statue, erected in 1930.

Fisher said he is the last living member of his Army unit and plans to use his speech to pay homage to deceased soldiers.

"I will discuss what this Memorial Day is all about," he said.