Ronni Hannaman: Mary’s voice made a difference

“It is easy to think that one person – one voice – means nothing in today’s complex society. A prevalent belief is that an individual cannot make a difference. One voice may make a small impact, but a voice combined with many other voices can change policy and procedures,” wrote Mary Fischer in the brochure she authored to allow us to better understand our unique history through the I-580 Carson City Bypass art project she championed along with a group of dedicated volunteers.
Fischer was a Carson City icon who passed unexpectedly Feb. 4. Her obituary published this past Wednesday gives some insight into the type of person she was but does not do justice to the now stilled voice that created our city’s first outdoor history art project that was to become the standard for future NDOT freeway landscaping projects and will now become her lasting memorial and gift to our citizens.
I am fortunate to have known Mary and be the recipient of her radiant smile. I served with her on the public/private partnership to bring forth the freeway art project and can attest from first-hand experience this was not an easy project to bring to fruition and as with any project funding was an obstacle.
But that didn’t stop Mary. In 1997, she gathered a group of enthusiastic fellow gardeners to form Gardeners Reclaiming Our Waysides (GROW). She then enlisted the support of another local icon Mayor Marv Teixeira who, in turn, enlisted the support of Sen. Harry Reid. Together with the support of the Nevada legislative delegation, they magically found $2 million of federal highway money dedicated to projects of this type. With this funding in place, NDOT and GROW were able to raise an additional $1 million through matching grants and private donations.
It was always Mary’s idea to authentically unfold Carson City’s history at each interchange, underpass, overpass, or bridge. There’s a story behind each metal art scape beginning with the giant eagle taking flight as one enters or leaves the city denoting our designation as Eagle Valley. You can view the historic timeline by logging on to to download a free book. Please enter Mary Fischer Grow in the search box. You’ll learn so much of our early history.
The first phase of the freeway history project was dedicated in 2012. Mary then stated, ““We wanted to help Carson City enhance the image of our state capital as a scenic city that values the quality of life of its citizens.”
That she did and did well. Her research was exhaustive. Mary loved Carson City and its history and has given our citizens a much-needed glimpse into our past.
The Carson City Chamber had the foresight in March to name Mary as one of the most influential women in our city during Women’s History Month. She reminded us all to know and respect our history and never let it be lost.
We value the extraordinary life of Mary Fischer and the lessons she taught us. She will not only be missed by her family and many friends, but by citizens who did not even know her.
Yes, Mary, one voice and one individual can make a difference. You surely did.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment