By Susie Ling
Of course, the Fisher Family would have their reunion on the same day as the Monrovia Day celebration. Said Betty Fisher Thomas, “This is so nice. I went to the Monrovia Day parade in the morning and to this gathering for the evening. There are still 44 first cousins that are the grandchildren of Julian and Gladys Fisher. But of course, I’m number one as I’m the oldest of these 44.” All of Monrovia knows that Julian Fisher was the first African American police officer and that his father, John Isaac Wesley Fisher was recruited to come to Monrovia to work on Lucky Baldwin’s race horses. Julian and Gladys Fisher had 11 children.
Said one of the 44 cousins, “Aunty Alice babysat many of us; Paul made the best BBQ; Betty was the resident nurse and counselor … And if you asked her right, Aunt Arlene knew which horse to bet on … We’ve been blessed to be in Monrovia.”
And Monrovia is blessed with many many Fishers. Forty-year old Jason Vance said, “I love it. I have such a historical legacy. I went to an interview at Monrovia High, and my interviewer took one look at me and asked, ‘Are you a Fisher?’ Well, I got the job. I work at the high school where my grandfather worked. My mom works at the post office. My great-aunt worked at Clifton School. And I have other great-uncles and my great-grandfather who worked for Monrovia. I now have two kids at Monrovia High School myself.” Vance added, “I was Grandma’s favorite.”
The Gadburys and Winstons were sitting together and spilling with stories to share. Betty Fisher married George Gadbury and they had five girls and four boys living at 405 E. Walnut. Their best friends were Jim and Norma Winston who had five boys and four girls living at 246 E. Los Angeles Ave. Barbara Gadbury Bailey said, “Our family had a lot of firsts. I was the first African American Monrovia Day Queen in 1970. My sisters and brothers integrated Wild Rose Elementary in the 1950s because our mother, Betty, insisted. Mama won an award once because all nine of us had perfect attendance for one school year. Our mother went door to door to get African Americans registered to vote. Mom was head nurse of the ICU unit at Santa Teresita Hospital in Duarte. Mama was amazing.”
Barbara, a retired flight attendant, also said, “Grandfather Julian was such a people person. He opened doors for so many. Everybody loved him. Because Lucky Baldwin favored him, Julian had an education during a time when some African Americans couldn’t even read and write. And Julian was very charismatic. But I was his favorite. He gave me my first car. I tore it up. No one told me you had to put oil in it.”
Barbara got up to the karaoke machine with her four sisters. Her brother, Robby, had earlier done a rendition of the song “Ride Sally Ride” with other cousins. That was my favorite. Happy Monrovia Day, Fishers.