Josephine Ella Fiske, 101, Goucher phys-ed professor

May 21, 2006|By LIZ F. KAY | LIZ F. KAY,SUN REPORTER

Josephine Ella "Jo" Fiske, a longtime physical-education professor, coach and referee at Goucher College who ran races into her 90s, died Monday of a stroke at the Edenwald retirement community in Towson. She was 101.

"She believed in doing what she practiced and practicing what she says," said her second cousin, Carol Parmenter of Roland Park.

Miss Fiske was born in Greenfield, Mass., and graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1926. She also studied at the Boston College of Physical Education. Miss Fiske later earned a master's degree in guidance and counseling from Columbia University's Teachers College in 1938.

She joined the physical-education department at Goucher in 1929, at a time when the goals of such classes were very different from what they are today.

"She came out of the era in the women's colleges of posture pictures and came down to really a very competitive era," said Rhoda M. Dorsey, former Goucher president. Students took posture classes and physical education every year.

Miss Fiske served as the physical education department chairwoman from 1957 to 1969 and taught badminton, archery, swimming and tennis. After retiring from Goucher in 1970, she taught at McGill University in Montreal for six years. Miss Fiske then returned to Baltimore and taught physical-education classes part-time until 1997.

Ms. Parmenter said her cousin remembered students' names and was concerned about their well-being.

"She was one of those people I think who really increased her enjoyment of her teaching as she got older," Dr. Dorsey said.

In 1998, Goucher honored Miss Fiske by naming its field hockey facility after her because of her devotion to physical education and athletics, particularly to field hockey.

Miss Fiske, whom Dr. Dorsey described as "no-nonsense" and "full of energy," continued to walk several miles daily until about two years ago, her family said. She was also a counselor at Camp Pinecliffe in Harrison, Maine, for more than 70 years.

She ran in the "4 on the Fourth" race in Bridgton, Maine, in one hour, 24 minutes and 33 seconds in 2001, when she was 96 years old -- the oldest person to finish the race, according to the Portland Press Herald. She took about seven more minutes to finish the race the next year, according to the newspaper's listings.

Miss Fiske was a longtime advocate of women's athletics. She served as president of the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports as well as on the boards of many other sports organizations.

She worked as a referee and is credited with establishing early referee organizations, including the Baltimore Basketball Board of Officials in 1931, according to Goucher. Dr. Dorsey said Miss Fiske continued to officiate field hockey games until she was in her 80s.

She received many awards for her work from state and local sports and physical-education groups, including the R. Tait McKenzie Award from the Maryland Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, the U.S. Women's Lacrosse Association's Umpiring Service Award and the John Franklin Goucher Medal of Service from the college.

The Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association also established the Josephine Fiske Scholarship, given annually to a student "who has demonstrated excellence in athletics."

Miss Fiske also supported the arts. She enjoyed the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and other music, Dr. Dorsey said. She went to art openings at local museums and traveled widely, Ms. Parmenter said.

"She was a broadly educated, interested human being," Dr. Dorsey said.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. June 4 at Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church, 6200 N. Charles St., Baltimore.

Miss Fiske is survived by three nieces and one nephew.

liz.kay@baltsun.com

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