Fast retires from FISH after 20 years

Cathleen Allison/Nevada AppealMonte Fast talks Tuesday about his retirement from FISH after 20 years. His son Jeff has been appointed as his replacement.

Cathleen Allison/Nevada AppealMonte Fast talks Tuesday about his retirement from FISH after 20 years. His son Jeff has been appointed as his replacement.

Monte Fast has decided to retire as executive director of Friends in Service Helping, a position he's held for the past 20 years.

Fast's interim replacement is Jeff Fast, his son, who has been working with FISH the past 10 years.

Monte Fast has been at home recovering after a recent illness and is doing well.

"On March 20, the board of directors came to me with two offers - to continue for a time on medical leave then go back to work full time, or retire," Fast said. "I chose to retire. I wanted to go back part time.

"For me, their decision was kind. I knew this had to come sooner or later. They're looking to the future, and my health is not the same - I'm 72 years old."

Dave Goodale, chairman of the FISH board, said it wasn't an easy decision to make replacing Fast.

"With Monte in intensive care for six days, unconscious, we were concerned about FISH's future," Goodale said. "It was difficult to say when he would come back, but we still needed an executive director.

"Monte's dream was for some day Jeff to be executive director, and he's been interim director this whole time."

Fast recently underwent colon surgery but after being home one day, his health declined. He returned to the hospital and was unconscious for several days, his health failing even more.

"While I was unconscious, no less than seven ministers came to visit and pray for me. Bruce Henderson, a humble spirit of God, was there every day. He prayed for me and he prayed for Billie (Fast's wife)."

For some time, Jeff, 47, wondered about serving people in the same capacity as his father.

"I had been struggling with what to do with my life," Jeff said. "During this time I focused on my work at FISH. The things we do here are amazing. Our motto - 'To feed, clothe and shelter people' - has become my mission."

Jeff has worked in the thrift store and food bank, as well as the homeless, interim and emergency shelters,.

"Monte built such a great organization and staff, the day-to-day operations are not a challenge," he said. "The challenges will be in being worthy of the loyalty and support Monte generated of FISH.

"I've got some big shoes to fill. It will be tough, but I think it will be fun."

Monte's wife, Billie, agrees it's time for him to retire, but doesn't know what he will do with his time.

"He's ready to retire," she said. "But he'll miss it."

Goodale said Fast's retirement was a mutual agreement.

"It's difficult, really, for Monte to retire," Goodale said. "FISH is Monte Fast. He built an empire that goes beyond anybody's imagination.

"Words cannot describe what he's done for FISH. It will be a huge void without him, but we're pretty confident Jeff's going to keep FISH serving the community like it always has."

Jeff Fast will be interim director for six months at which time the board will evaluate his performance and make a decision on the job.

"The board is working hard to make Jeff succeed," Goodale said. "He is our first choice.

"We realized we had gold at our fingertips with Jeff, but our main focus is to see Monte get better.

"We have a long way to go to make up for Monte being gone - people trust him so much. It will be difficult for a while, but he'll always be a part of FISH. We won't cut him out. We're going to miss him for sure."

• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at or 881-1223.

What people are saying about Monte Fast's retirement.

Sheriff Kenny Furlong

Monte is the most wonderful, gentle-hearted man and he has done so much - touching the people who are so much in need. We deal with a lot of folks who Monte has helped and he has given us an outlet, resources for people who don't have anything else. Monte has always stood by them and cared for them. He's the most gentle man I've ever met.

Chris Bayer, director of CASA

I've known Monte as a friend, a colleague and a mentor. Monte has built FISH into a leg-up for thousands upon thousands of Carson City residents. Monte believes in people. He treats everyone with respect, good humor and honesty.

Father Jerry Hanley (ret, St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Community) - Monte loved those who are in need. He didn't just do a job, everybody who came to him was a person with dignity. I had absolute, total trust in what he was doing, which is why I made FISH a priority with the church and other charities in town.

As a man and a friend, he is absolutely wonderful. I feel blessed God gave us this time and place together. It's sad to see him retire and he deserves a wonderful retirement, and accolades and tribute from this wonderful city.


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