My high school Algebra teacher, Brother Victor Fischer, OSF, died this week. Victor was a combination of the comic rage of Lewis Black and the good-natured cynicism of Victor Borge.
After eight years of Catholic school nuns in Blessed Sacrament School, who knew you could laugh + learn in a classroom? Brother Victor had a line for every occasion. Some of the humor was bawdy, which was legal in an all-boys school in the '70s. For example, if a kid raised his hand and asked to go to the bathroom, Victor would retort, "Didn't you go already this year?" Another lad would raise his hand for the same thing and Victor would throw a rubber band at him telling him he could hold it. Then there was the boy who reported that his two quarters were missing. He was known forever by Victor as "the kid who lost the fifty cents." Or an especially nervous student he pegged "the nervous kid." One very hot day, several students broke the rule on no beverages in the classroom. Brother got very angry, seized the offending cans, and ran one over his forehead in sweet relief from the late spring Brooklyn haze.
Brother Victor was a positive influence on my brother who, like Victor, was a ham radio operator. Victor's callsign was WA2LML (We Are Two Little Meat Loaves). He taught my other brother too. The year the school went coed, my sister enrolled and he call out to her in the hall, "You're a Black [ed. note--that's our last name], right?"
I got a 98 on the Algebra Regents exam, which we took in the Fall. I also did well in trigonometry in the Spring. When I went to college I majored in Math, no doubt due to the solid grounding in numbers and fun given to me by Brother Victor, OSF. Through several layoffs in the 2000s, the math degree has been something for me to fall back on and gets the foot in the door.
The following is courtesy of franciscanbrothers.org:
BROTHER VICTOR FISCHER, O.S.F.
James Fischer, son of George and Charlotte (Haiser) Fischer was born in Brooklyn on July 24, 1932.
After attending St. Leonard’s High School and St. Anthony’s Juniorate he entered the Franciscan Brothers on February 11, 1950.
He received the Franciscan habit and the Religious name “Victor” on August 2, 1950 and made his profession of vows two years later on July 26, 1952.
Brother Victor’s first assignment was to St. Leonard’s High School. He was Business Manager at St. Francis College from 1956-1959 before returning to St. Leonard’s until 1963.
Brother Victor taught at St. Francis Prep, first in Brooklyn then in Fresh Meadows, from 1964 until 1978. He was a member of the Mathematics Department and subsequently Chairman of the Business Department.
Beginning in 1979 Brother Victor served in a variety of ministries including three years in Pennsylvania and many years in the Archdiocese of New York at St. Jean Baptiste High School.
In spite of a severe hearing loss Brother Victor volunteered during his retirement years at several Brooklyn locations that included CHIPS (Christian Help in Park Slope) and St. Martin of Tours Parish.
On October 16, 2010, while out for a walk, Victor died as a result of injuries suffered in an accident.
He is survived by a sister, Catherine Mattison of Florida, a brother, William of Pennsylvania, and numerous nieces and nephews.