We are heartbroken by the passing of one of our most devoted and beloved volunteers, Arthur Fisher. Arthur passed away on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 and will be dearly missed by the New York Cares community.
Arthur joined our family in 1995 after vowing to serve others the way others had cared for him at his lowest moments. Over those twenty-five years, he made good on that vow and so much more.
Arthur was a staple of the New York Cares office–more integral to our fabric than any logo.
For more than 15 of his 25 years with New York Cares, Arthur led orientations at our office, ushering in new generations of volunteers. His orientations were equal parts humorous, heartfelt, and humbling.
To Arthur, orientations were the highlight of his week.
"When I give orientation, it’s adrenaline. I see different people, different faces every day, young and old. I keep it fun. […] If I didn’t have New York Cares, I’d be one of the crankiest old kooks that ever walked the city of New York. It keeps me going. It gives me something to do. It keeps me occupied."
To New York Cares staff, he was the highlight.
Arthur was a history buff, loved crossword puzzles, and always had a book in hand. He never forgot a birthday and made sure you knew it. Always showing up at least an hour before orientation began, Arthur would make his rounds around the office, checking in and joking with staff, and reminiscing about decades of service with Sandy, our Front Desk Coordinator and most tenured staff member.
When our city shutdown last March, staff coordinated socially distanced outdoor reunions. For Arthur’s 80th birthday, we organized a virtual celebration in Madison Square Park – his favorite place to people watch. When his health began to decline earlier this year and visitation was no longer an option, we relied on calls, notes, and flowers to remain in touch.
In Arthur’s final hours, the nurses shared a flood of these flowers and selfies with encouraging messages. Our hope is that he felt incredibly appreciated and loved in his final moments.
Arthur exemplified a true New Yorker – tough on the outside with a heart of gold on the inside.
As we grieve the passing of a dear friend, we take comfort knowing that his memory lives on through our mission. We leave you with the following words from Ryan Birol, a staff member and dear friend of Arthur.
"Arthur was a person who showed up for his life and those in it. For 25 consistent years, he did just that for all of us at New York Cares and his fellow New Yorker. He was so present, compassionate, and brought so much levity to the everyday struggle of simply being human. I don’t know the purpose of life or why we’re here. But I am confident in saying Arthur was as close to it as anyone can be. Whatever next shore Arthur lands on, considering how blessed they will be, I am already a little envious of those who receive him."
New York Cares will share more information on our plans to best honor and celebrate Arthur’s life in the weeks to come.