Obituary: Margaret Fischer, 86, was influential music, drama teacher at Casa Roble High School in Orangevale

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013 - 6:57 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 6:49 am

Margaret Fischer, a passionate teacher and musician who inspired performing arts students at Casa Roble High School in Orangevale, died Sept. 3 of complications from a recent stroke, her family said. She was 86.

Mrs. Fischer dedicated herself to sharing her love of music and encouraging self-confidence in young people. She taught for five years at Del Paso Heights Elementary School in Sacramento after earning a music degree in 1948 at San Jose State College. She raised a family while giving private music lessons at her home and led a choir of Aerojet workers’ wives, the Missile Tones.

Her standards were high and her methods were no-nonsense when she returned to the classroom in 1967 to teach music and drama for 19 years at Casa Roble High School. Not one to tolerate discipline problems in class, she was known to throw an eraser to get an unruly student’s attention. She videotaped marching band practices to help young performers improve and put in long hours producing popular spring musicals, including “Mame,” “My Fair Lady” and “The Music Man.”

During a strike over teacher salaries in the San Juan Unified School District, Mrs. Fischer refused to walk out on her students. Rather than cross a picket line, however, she held classes on the lawn of her Orangevale home. She cooked meals for students, organized impromptu history and English classes based on plays and welcomed neighbors who set up chairs to enjoy outdoor concerts and drama rehearsals.

“She felt teachers were underpaid, but she felt she had a personal and moral obligation to teach her students,” said her daughter Mary Mosqueda. “I will never forget that we made so much food that week. Once word got out that she was holding classes at her house, it was a zoo.”

Besides teaching, Mrs. Fischer played trumpet in the River City Band, the Sacramento Valley Symphonic Band and other music groups. She toured and performed with community bands in China, Russia and other countries.

After retiring from education in 1986, she spent several years as a commercial videographer and editor for TV commercials, concerts, horse shows, weddings and other events.

A Sacramento native, Margaret Catherine Corcoran was born July 23, 1927, and graduated from Grant High School. Encouraged by relatives who introduced her to music, theater and opera, she fell in love with the performing arts early and learned to play the trumpet.

“My mother was always embarrassed by it,” she told The Bee in 1993. “I did it because I could meet boys.”

She played at dances for the Lions, Masons and Rebekahs to earn money for school and spent an extra semester in college to pass music tests to teach a variety of instruments. She earned a master’s degree from California State University, Sacramento, and was married for more than 24 years to Raymond F. Fischer, an engineer at McClellan Air Force Base.

Mrs. Fischer, who hosted a home-cooked dinner for seniors every year, was proud that many of her students pursued professional careers in music and entertainment. Two were her sons Eric, who won two Emmys as a TV set designer for “Days of Our Lives,” and Carl, a sound boom technician in Hollywood movies.

“It didn’t matter what you were interested in doing, she just wanted you to believe in yourself,” her daughter said. “She always told her students, ‘Come back and let me know how successful you are, so we can celebrate.’”

Mrs. Fischer was predeceased by her husband in 1976 and son Eric in 1991. Besides her daughter and son Carl, she is survived by her stepson Jerry; a sister, Virginia North; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life is planned for 10 a.m. Oct. 26 at Divine Savior Catholic Church, 9079 Greenback Lane, Orangevale. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any music or drama group.

Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila

Read more articles by Robert D. Dávila

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