In Henry Fisher’s mind, what better way to promote his new Registry Hotel on the famed Bloomington Interstate 494 strip than send snow to Texas?
The hotel’s parent company was based in Dallas, and Fisher and his staff decided a truckload of the white stuff for the Vikings-Cowboys playoff game in 1978 might even the playing field.
They called it “Viking Turf Conditioner,” which stadium security didn’t find very amusing, said acquaintance Rob Brown. The stunt won Fisher the National Hotel Association’s publicity award. It wouldn’t be the last time his professional and civic accomplishments were recognized.
“I don’t think I ever met a man with so many talents,” said Nancy Helin, his executive secretary at the Registry. “He was the classic people person.”
Fisher, 95, the energetic manager of two popular hotels on “the strip,” an aviator and big band nut, died Jan. 24 of natural causes in Bloomington.
He grew up in Union, Mich., and graduated from Michigan State University, where he met his wife, Mary Jane. He initially trained to join the Secret Service, but an accident shifted his career to the hospitality industry, said his son Brian, of Stevenson Ranch, Calif. During World War II, he helped inspect air bases in the U.S. and England and held a high rank.
Fisher worked for Sheraton Hotels before he helped open the 500-room Marriott Hotel at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago in 1967. He then helped open the first-class Marriott Inn near the airport in Bloomington. He was a private pilot, and once flew to the Iron Range to boost out-of-town sales. In the early 70s, the Marriott hosted a live big band radio show with Jerry Mayeron on Sunday nights, a first for the new WCCO-FM, said Brown, who was the station’s general manager.
Fisher joined the Registry Hotel Corp. in the mid 1970s. Presidents and celebrities stayed there, and he once had to break up a fight between musicians Sonny and Cher, Brian said.
He operated a hospitality consulting business and was general manager of the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis. He ended his long working life providing audio and visual rental equipment.
He was active in a variety of local and state organizations and institutions. He was president of the Minnesota Hotel and Motor Hotel Association, Bloomington Chamber of Commerce and Normandale Community College Advisory Board. He received numerous awards, including alumnus of the year at Michigan State’s School of Hotel Administration, and he was elected to the Minnesota Hospitality Hall of Fame.
Fisher’s military service carried throughout his life, as he was a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and Confederate Air Force.
He enjoyed hunting and fishing and was a hot-air balloon pilot. He also was known for painting birds on wine glasses and giving them to family and friends.
“Henry was the most dynamic person I dealt with in my decades in media, and there’s no change in that feeling,” said Brown.
Fisher was preceded in death by his wife of 70 years. Besides his son, he is survived by another son, Charles, of Medina, Ohio, and a sister, Bea Nusbaum, of Indiana. Services were held last month. A military service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.