On Monday, March 16, 2020, David (Dave) Bradley Fish “Mr. Fish” (Superman), loving husband, father and grandfather, (Grandpa D/ Papaw) passed away unexpectedly at the age of 75.
Dave was born Aug. 18, 1944, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (“Go Hawks”) to Ken and Genevieve (Kelly) Fish. He graduated from St. Louis University with his master’s degree in hospital administration.
While doing his hospital internship in San Antonio, Texas, he became smitten with a nurse in training. On June 21, 1969, he married that nurse, a southern belle and the love of his life, Dianne Elizabeth Carver, “Cinderella.” Together they raised five children in Chippewa Falls. Dave was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and served three years of active duty in Landsthul, Germany, as part of the Medical Service Corp. He continued his military commitment as part of the U.S. Army Reserves, with another deployment into active duty during Desert Storm. He retired from military service after 22 years as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Dave was president and CEO of HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital/Chippewa Falls, serving closely with the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis for 38 years. He leaves a profound impact and legacy for the Sisters’ mission and health care delivery. A few of his larger accomplishments during this career included serving as president of the Wisconsin Hospital Association and on the American Hospital Associations Small and Rural Hospital Council. He served the community as president of the Chippewa Area United Way, Chamber of Commerce, and served on multiple boards, including the Heyde Center, Irvine Park, Northern Wisconsin State Fair and Ann Marie Foundation. He was the driving force behind the development of the Community Foundation of Chippewa County. Dave was a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish for nearly 40 years; his faith was inspiring.
Through all these accomplishments, Dave’s humility is what resonates. His own children never knew the significant roles and awards he was given until his retirement celebration. When asked by others what he did for work, he would reply first “Whatever my wife tells me” and then “I work at the hospital.” And if questioned further he would reply “I work in administration.” And leave it at that.
Dave’s greatest pride and joy came from his love and commitment to his family. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe him. He was playful, loyal, funny, and infinitely selfless. He served as event planner for family graduations, milestone birthdays, and annual Spam fishing trips. He was an avid sports fan (“Go Pack”) enjoying professional and college events, but mostly being present at any event his grandchildren were participating in. He loved planning unique and adventurous travel with his wife, visiting obscure museums, university campuses, and presidential libraries. He cherished creating memories and laughter for his family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ken and Genevieve Fish. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Dianne; his five children, Jenny (Jim) Goethals, David Bradley II (Theresa) Fish, Martha (Matt) Murray, Matthew (Amy) Fish and Anneliese (Bob) Fish; and his beloved 14 grandchildren, Augie, Hattie and Evan Goethals; Warren, Ben and Carl Murray; Myles, Lydia, Simon, Henry and Martha Fish; Callahan, Carver and Charlie Fish. He is survived by three siblings, Kenneth (Janet) Fish, Frank (Marilyn) Fish and Peg Fish; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He will be sorely missed but always remembered. He would want everyone to know “You can be on my team.”
A celebration of David’s life will be held at a future date. Details of this celebration will be communicated via David’s favorite form of social media, the local newspaper, word of mouth, and the U.S. Postal Service.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation, Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, or the Community Foundation of Chippewa County.
“Remember, when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received — only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”
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