Dr. Alvan E. Fisher, 1950 – 2007

Dr. Alvan E. Fisher

The Providence Journal has a moving obituary today on my uncle Alvan Fisher.

“Dr. Alvan E. Fisher, who in 1983 treated the first Rhode Islander diagnosed with AIDS and went on to become a pioneer in the treatment of people with the disease, died Friday of renal cancer in his California home,” the story by the Journal’s Thomas Mooney reads. It quotes Alvan’s colleague and friend Steve Sepe.

“We were seeing lots and lots of people with dreaded illnesses who were dying and we didn’t know what it was,” recalled Sepe. “It was like fighting in the trenches and Al cared very deeply for his patients.”

In 2002, he was awarded with AIDS Project Rhode Island’s “Red Ribbon Award,” which will be renamed in his honor.

In Judaism, there is a tradition called “tikkun olam,” to repair the world. Alvan was by no means religious. But he lived that tradition with every fiber of his blessed soul.

Here’s the donation information:
AIDS Project Rhode Island
232 West Exchange St.
Providence, RI 02903


The Dean R. O’Neill Renal Cell Cancer Research Fund
c/o Foundation for the NIH
One Cloister Court
Suite 152
Bethesda, MD 20814-1460

7 Responses to “Dr. Alvan E. Fisher, 1950 – 2007”

  1. Michael A. Burstein Says:

    Condolences on your loss.

  2. friend-of-fab-dana Says:

    Sending you and your family my condolences.

  3. johanna bromberg craig Says:

    I was very sorry to hear about the death of your uncle. I knew him when I was little, as he and my dad did an ID fellowship together at Brown in the late 70s? early 80s? Though I haven’t seen him or Pam or the kids in many years, I still recall how I liked to hear his stories, his great sense of humor and his love of folk music – he and my dad were “festival doctors” at a number of music festivals in Rhode Island. “May the source of peace send peace to those who mourn and comfort to those who are bereaved. . . .”

  4. Adam Hurtubise Says:

    Condolences on your loss, Seth.

  5. Deborah Gitell Says:

    “Twilight on the frozen lake
    North wind about to break
    On footprints in the snow
    Silence down below.

    You’re beautiful beyond words
    You’re beautiful to me
    You can make me cry
    Never say goodbye”

    Bob Dylan

  6. Jörgen Lindström Says:

    I met Alvan through our mutual love for the music of Bob Dylan, when he visited me in my home here in Stockholm, Sweden. This was in 1989. We stayed in touch over the years, and I finally got to visit him and his wife in their home in 1997, during a Dylan tour.
    I was wondering why I hadn’t heard from him for so long, and now, googling the net, I was totally shocked to read about his death.
    Alvan was such a lovely and generous guy, one of the best I’ve known, and I am very happy to have known him.
    This hurts me so much, and my thoughts go out to his family. It was a great pleasure to meet Pam in -97, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am.
    Rest in peace, Alvan.

    Jörgen, Stockholm

  7. Chris and Catherine, Arizona Says:

    Dear Seth, A note from a friend in Providence made passing mention of your uncle’s death — a terrible shocking piece of news to us.
    We were his patients for twenty years in Rhode Island and we both adored and admired him. I always knew that if anything ever went really, really wrong Al would take the very best care of us. But, in fact, he did that for even the minor aches and pains.
    I know at least one person living with HIV/AIDS who believes he is here today only because of your uncle’s compassionate care and commitment to securing the rights of AIDS patients to be treated humanely. I am sure there are many, many who feel this way.
    When we moved to AZ, Al recommended a friend to be our doc here. All three of us will be thinking of him and remembering all the good he did. It’s just a terrible shame that he died so young. He had so much more to give.
    Our heartfelt condolences to you and all of your family.
    Chris and Catherine

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