Gary D Fisher – UPDATED


A Celebration of Life for 78-year old Gary D Fisher of Crawford, NE, will be held Friday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Berean Church in Chadron with a reception to follow at the Dawes County Fairgrounds.

In lieu of flowers a memorial has been established for the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department and the Crawford Public Library. Donations may be sent in care of Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.

Online condolences may be left at

Gary D. Fisher was born in Rushville, NE, on Oct. 3, 1943, to Buford and Florence (Sandoz) Fisher and passed away on October 7, 2021, at his home in Crawford, NE.

He was welcomed home by big sister Karen, who spent their childhood trying to force him to take his cod liver oil, throwing scissors at him, and running the pedals of the Jeep while Gary steered as they raked hay in the Sandhills meadows before either was big enough to see over the dash.

A few years later, Gary’s ally was born: “Little Brother,” “Shorty,” Wayne William. The two boys built a relationship–and a lot of stack movers–that stayed as strong and steady as anything they manufactured: Fisherbuilt.

One day after he graduated high school, Gary went to Fort Robinson to shoe a horse everyone else was afraid of. On the way home he worked up the nerve to call a girl from Crawford he’d seen once or twice. He stopped in Hay Springs and called the Moore household long distance, hoping he remembered the right sister’s name. He asked for Nancy. She was the right sister.

They were married August 18, 1967 in Rushville.

Nancy taught math and science in Crawford while Gary went to college at Chadron State College. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in wildlife management and geology.

Gary and Nancy lived and worked in and near Crawford and Harrison their whole lives, except for a summer on the shore of Lake Superior, where Gary worked in a research lab. They moved back because Gary didn’t know what to do with a job that required only 8 hours a day.

Gary worked at the fish hatchery in Crawford, delivering fish, and also night-calved heifers at the USDA Beef Research Center at Fort Robinson. He started Fisher Welding and Manufacturing, which moved from the Table to West Ash Creek, then a mile north of Crawford, then back to West Ash Creek.

While they lived north of Crawford, Gary added White River Carriage works, building wagons and wagon wheels while learning silversmithing and blacksmithing. A freight wagon he built is in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.

Nancy and Gary were “Uncle Gary and Aunt Nance” to nieces and nephews, starting with Mick Freimuth, who loved spending time with them, milking the cows, feeding the chickens, having water fights, “helping” in the shop, and playing with the dog.

In 1976, they got a phone call telling them they would be Mom and Dad to a baby boy. A few days after Nancy’s 30th birthday, they adopted and brought home Matthew Wayne, who somehow had Gary’s blue eyes and way of looking at, and solving, problems.

Fifteen months later, Levi Dwain joined the family the traditional way, with Gary’s face and hands as well as his love for cattle, horses, and family.

A baby girl completed the family four years later, when Maria Ellen was born. The day she was born Gary bought a Browning .22, which he gave to her for Christmas when she was 12.

When the kids were little, Gary and Nancy walked to the front of the Nazarene Church in Crawford and accepted Jesus as their Savior. Gary was more often in the shop than in church on Sunday morning, but his mission field was a 50-by-54 red steel building where he patched his neighbor’s livelihoods back together with fairness and integrity while sharing his wisdom, laugh, and favorite jokes.

Gary and Nancy always worked toward moving “home,” on West Ash Creek Road, where they lived not long after they were married, and brought home their two boys as babies. Just before their 25th anniversary, they moved home.

The family worked together running cattle, riding and driving horses, caring for the ranch, planting trees, building and fixing in the shop, and spraying weeds.

Gary tried hard to balance the need to provide for his family with his want to be there for their big moments.

He was always there to offer his callused hand as Maria walked down the steps at the 4-H style revue, went shopping by himself for her gifts–sometimes a pocketknife, sometimes a frilly doll–and checked the oil and air in her tires before she left.

He and Nancy never missed the Nebraska State Rodeo Finals any time Levi made it there, wearing the spurs Gary had made for him.

Matt always lived within half an hour of Gary and Nancy, and spent many evenings and weekends helping with anything they needed to have done, fishing at the dam, and just talking to Gary about life and projects. Anytime Matt was stumped, he could call Gary and figure out an answer.

Gary and Nancy had so much love to share they served as foster parents for several years.

With Nancy’s support, Gary served on the school board, was a 4-H leader, was elected to the Natural Resources District Board, founded the Running Water Ranching Coalition, and Northwest Nebraska High Country. He was also elected to two terms as Dawes County Commissioner and served 7 years in the Nebraska National Guard for 7 years.

Gary and Nancy welcomed nine grandchildren, and Gary loved seeing them enjoy the ranch he and Nancy built, going to their activities – whether rodeo, sports, speech or drama – and making sure there were always M&Ms in their Christmas stockings.

Gary is survived by Nancy, his wife of 54 years, his children, Matt (Jessica) Fisher, Levi (Keri) Fisher, Maria (Trevor) Tibbetts, grandchildren, Ethan, Elisa and William Tussing, Madeline and Weston Gary Tibbetts; Mekenna and Peyton Fisher; Alex and Kadence Fisher; sister Karen (Vance) Nelson; brother, Wayne (Diane) Fisher; in-laws Susan (Ted) Vastine and Jenny Hughson, and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.

Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Buford and Florence Fisher, and brothers-in-law David Moore and Lee Hughson.

Chamberlain Chapel of Chadron, NE, is in charge of arrangements for Gary Fisher.