Ernest M. Fishman, Bright Hill Literary Center's co-founder and President Emeritus, died on March 16 at his Bright Hill Farm home in Upstate New York.
He was born on March 19, 1929, in the Bronx; and he grew up in Mount Vernon, where he graduated from A. B. Davis High School and then, in 1946, continued his education at Philadelphia Textile (now Philadelphia University) and earning a B.S. in textile engineering, after which he went to work for a decorative fabric manufacturer in NYC.
Ernest was accepted for and entered the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School at Fort Bliss, TX, in 1951 and, upon graduating, was commissioned Second Lieutenant and assigned to the "B" Battery of the 704th AAA Gun Battalion, a unit of the 26th (Yankee) Division, the Massachusetts National Guard. He continued as Radar Officer there until October 1953, when he joined the Reserves. Later, long after serving in the Army, he, with his usual enthusiasm and enterprise, organized the 50th Anniversary Reunion of his OCS class, Able One, at Fort Bliss.
Upon leaving the Army, he worked in the textile business for the next 20 years. He attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, graduating with a Masters Degree and entering the equipment leasing business, where he continued until the late 1980s, when he moved to the western Catskills and began writing for local newspapers.
While reviewing a reading by women writers at the Huntington Library in Oneonta, Ernest was taken by the poet Bertha Rogers. The two quickly became fast friends, then the loves of each others' lives, becoming engaged in early 1993 and married on October 3, 1993, in a stone circle at Bright Hill Farm.
He always said that together he and Bertha could do anything; and he was right: in 1992, they began a reading series, Word Thursdays at Bright Hill Farm, that morphed into Bright Hill Press and, ultimately (in 2002) Bright Hill Literary Center in Treadwell. Ernest was very proud of his work with Bright Hill; he was responsible for major fund-raising to purchase the facility and,later, to build Bright Hill's Library, replace the facility's roof, install a new heating system, and renovate and winterize the former garage, now Education Wing.
He also began writing stories, several of which have been published in literary magazines
and anthologies;and he continued his lifelong love of photography, taking thousands of pictures wherever he went (including documenting every event at Bright Hill) and having solo exhibits at Bright Hill, at Catskill Area Hospice Delhi office,and other locations.
He loved music and served, for several years, on the board and as board president of the Catskill Symphony Orchestra; one of his happiest achievements was narrating Aaron Copland's "The Lincoln Portrait" and other works conducted by Maestro Charles Schneider.
During his time in the Catskills, Ernest also worked for the RFI in Walton and as a Field Representative for the U.S. Census Bureau. His work for the Census took him all over the Northeast and gave him great pleasure, allowing him to meet and befriend many people. An inveterate storyteller and born educator, he was truly a person who found friends wherever he went.
Ernest was a dedicated citizen, serving as Treadwell Town Justice in 1999, a position that enabled him to work with the justice system that he felt was so important to all citizens.
He loved and valued his family; his sons Theodore (Christine), Glastonbury, CT; and James (Carol), Cortlandt Manor; stepdaughters Jade Roth and Rachel Ariana Roth, Brooklyn; and his grandchildren Benjamin (Ingrid), South Windsor, CT; Andrew, Rio de janiero, Brazil; Sarah Marion (Seth), New Rochelle; Emily, Asheville, NC; Bronwyn Edwards, Brooklyn and Bennington, VT; Delilah and Violet Silberman, Brooklyn; and Brian Reynolds, Brooklyn; and great-granddaughter Michaela Rae Marion. He was enormously proud of their accomplishments and delighted, always, to teach them, through example, how to love and enjoy life. He was deeply loved and will be so missed.
To honor his memory and celebrate his large life, there will be a memorial reading and service with tree planting, followed by a luncheon at Bright Hill Farm at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 7.
Ernest's wife and family thank Drs. Christopher and Carolyn Wulf-Gould, the Treadwell EMS, the Catskill Area Hospice, Leon and Paula Ulmer; Terry and Bob Moses, the board of Bright Hill, and the many friends who were so helpful to the family during the last years of his life.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Treadwell EMS, Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care (http://www.cahpc.org/), or Bright Hill Press & Literary Center (http://www.brighthillpress.org).
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