Marilyn Ruth Fisher
1955 ~ 2017
Marilyn Ruth Fisher, a long time Tahoe resident, died Sunday January 29th in Gold Beach, Oregon, after a battle with cancer.
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She was born to Rodney and Maryon Fisher on June 14th, 1955 in Altus, OK. The youngest of four children, she and her family followed her WWII fighter pilot father to air bases in Oklahoma, Sourth Dakota, and Texas. Her parents divorced when she was a teenager, and she and her mom drove across country in a repossessed pickup truck to start a new life in California. They eventually ended up in Lake Tahoe, where Maryon became personnel director for the gaudy and mafia-linked King’s Castle Hotel and Casino (now the Hyatt) in Incline. Marilyn also worked there as a switchboard operator while attending Incline High School.
When King’s Castle closed down, she and her boyfriend, Pete Sparacino, moved to Klamath. Among the redwoods and ocean air was where they would spend a few years crafting intricate and beautiful handmade objects out of their roadside “Walking Stick and Nature Crafts” shop. When they returned to Tahoe, she would go back to work as a manager in the communications department at the Hyatt, where her brother Bob, sister Carol, mother and future stepfather, John Lewis were also working. During this period she matured into an independent young woman full of music and spirituality who embraced the rebellion and exploration happening in Tahoe in the 70’s.
In 1979, she met Benny Heineike, another colorful Tahoe local, and then married and had two sons, Benjamin and Daniel. The marriage wouldn’t last, but she and Benny made sure that they put their differences aside so that the boys could have a childhood full of support and love. She was extremely proud of her boys who would both graduate from North Tahoe High School and go on to attend the US Naval Academy.
She moved to Homewood, on Tahoe’s west shore, in the mid 90’s to live with Jim Waldron. She and Jim helped one another through a few hard times, and enjoyed cooking, playing cards and off-roading in the McKinney Rubicon near their house. He would help reawaken her pioneering spirit, taking her elk hunting in eastern Nevada and fishing in Alaska.
Marilyn was a warm, energetic and engaging presence around the Lake. Whether she was dealing Blackjack and Roulette at north shore casinos, booking reservations at the Chamber of Commerce, delivering food at Bacchi’s, or interacting with customers at the Carnelian Bay 711 or the PDQ, she was always trying to connect with patrons, learn more about them, and brighten their day with a smile, joke or funny story. Her neighbors will remember her walking her dog and looking for arrowheads and conversations.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, but an intense regimen of chemotherapy beat back the disease a few years later. Her relief at beating cancer was short lived; shortly afterwards, she lost Jim. Through that difficult time she kept her unbreakable positive spirit, faith, and concern for others.
The only thing that could take her from her treasured home at the Lake was her family, and in 2014 she got an irresistible enticement in the form of her first grandchild, Clifford Heineike. She moved in with her son Ben to be the “Granny-Nanny” and would eventually be known to her grandchildren and the rest of her new neighbors in Albany, California as “Dandy”. She showered Clifford and later his little brother Lewis with love while she looked after them, but when the breast cancer eventually returned, she moved up to Oregon to spend her last days with her sister and brother on the coast. She died peacefully, having spen her last holiday season surrounded by family.
She is survived by her two sons, Benjamin and Daniel Heineike; her sister, Carol Tice; brothers, Bob and Noel Fisher; her 3 grandchildren, Clifford, Collin, and Lewis; and her beloved dog Atlas.
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