Founders: Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher
Zachary Fisher (1910 – 1999) was a prominent figure in the New York real estate community and a major philanthropic benefactor for the men and women in the United States Armed Forces, as well as numerous other not-for-profit organizations.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Fisher began working in construction at the age of 16.  Shortly thereafter, he and his brothers, Martin and Larry, joined forces to form Fisher Brothers, which has grown into one of the real estate industry’s premier residential and commercial developers, owning more than five million square feet of office space.

From the earliest days of his construction career, Mr. Fisher was a strong supporter of the U.S. Armed Forces.  Prevented from active service in World War II due to a leg injury, Mr. Fisher drew on his building skills to assist the U.S. Coastal Service in the construction of coastal fortifications.  His patronage of the Armed Forces became an ongoing concern from that time, evolving to occupy increasing amounts of his energies.

In 1945 Zachary married Elizabeth Kenowsky (1913 – 2004).  Elizabeth had served in the USO during World War II.  She entertained over 157,000 troops overseas as a Ziegfield showgirl.  She also volunteered to visit American troops who were hospitalized, and spent many hours at their bedsides.  She had a significant early involvement in the Veterans Bedside Network, a support organization for injured veterans.

In 1979, Zachary founded the Intrepid Museum Foundation to save the historic and battle-scarred aircraft carrier Intrepid  from the scrap yard.  Four years of involvement with the Foundation resulted in his spearheading  the opening of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, now a prominent educational, cultural and historic attraction.

In 1982, the same year as the Museum’s opening, Mr. Fisher established the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Armed Services Foundation.  Through the Foundation, the Fishers made significant contributions to the families of the victims of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.  In the years that followed, the Foundation has made contributions of $25,000 to numerous military families who have lost loved ones under tragic circumstances.  The Fishers made similar donations to the families of New York City firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty.  His Armed Services Foundation also provided scholarship funds to active and former service members and their families.

In 1990, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher began the Fisher House program, dedicating more than $20 million to the construction of comfort homes for families of hospitalized military personnel.  The program has continued to grow and today 64 Fisher Houses operate at military bases and Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers throughout the nation.

In 1994, Mr. Fisher, together with David Rockefeller, established the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, which funds Alzheimer’s disease research with the goal of finding a cause and cure.  The Foundation operates the nation’s largest and most modern Alzheimer’s research laboratory, housed at The Rockefeller University in New York City.

In 1998, Mr. Fisher received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in honor of his wide-ranging contributions on behalf of the young men and women in the US Armed Forces.   He also received the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Horatio Alger Award, the President’s Volunteer Action Award, the Senior Civilian Award from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, and the top civilian awards from each branch of the military.

Separately, Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as Margaret Thatcher and Yitzak Rabin, recognized Mr. Fisher for his support of military-themed charitable organizations throughout the United States.  Mr. Fisher’s devotion to his country can be summed up in the inscription on the Presidential Plaque presented to him by President Reagan:  "To the tireless, dedicated work of many Americans, the Intrepid will serve as an inspiration.  One man deserves special tribute — Zachary Fisher, a patriotic American who never forgot and cares so much."