Passed away on December 10, 2021 in Victoria, BC, aged 89 years. Fred was born on April 28, 1932 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Predeceased by his wife Cathreen and son Martin (Linnea), Fred is survived by daughters Ann (Hugo) and Wendy (Chris), grandchildren Raphaella (Adrian), James and Alexander, brother John and nephews Mark and Brent (Pam).

Fred came of hardy and adventurous stock. His father, also Fred, went to sea as a ship’s carpenter and became a gold miner near Nome, Alaska, eventually returning to gold dredging in New Zealand in his forties. Mother Mary emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand by herself at age 22. After a bout with polio, young Fred was sent to a Roman Catholic convent school in Christchurch, where his academic promise was so evident that he was kept on as a scholarship pupil. He graduated as Dux of St. Bede’s College in Christchurch in 1949, with a University of New Zealand National Entrance Scholarship.

At Canterbury University College Fred was Senior Scholar in chemistry in his B.Sc. graduating year, 1953, and while completing his M.Sc. in 1955 he obtained a lecturing appointment in the chemistry department. On the strength of this, Fred and Cathreen married in 1955 and welcomed daughters Ann in 1956 and Wendy in 1958.

In 1960, Fred completed his Ph.D. in organic chemistry and was awarded a post-doctoral research fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. Not deterred by US/NZ double taxation, the little family subsisted on a shoestring and delighted in their American adventure. Son Martin was born in 1962, after the family’s return to New Zealand. A few years later, following a sabbatical year in 1966-67 at the University of Sussex, UK on a Nuffield Fellowship, Fred was attracted by opportunities overseas. In January, 1969 he joined the University of Victoria as a full Professor of Chemistry.

Fred’s career at UVic quickly expanded to administrative roles although he continued to oversee a research laboratory. He sponsored overseas students and promoted diversity in academia. He served as Acting Head of the Chemistry Department (1972-73), Dean of Arts & Science (1975-78), Vice-President, Academic (1979-83), Acting Dean of Engineering (1985-86) and Associate Vice-President, Administration (1989-95). Retirement tributes from colleagues lauded Fred’s industry, tact, objectivity, dedication, wisdom and mentorship. His C.V. listed 112 articles in refereed journals.

In family life, as at work, Fred could be blunt and decisive, but was also tender-hearted and generous. Martin’s death in 1984, of Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 22 years, was a great blow. Fred stepped aside from academia and devoted himself to supporting Martin through that terrible time.

When Fred could tear himself away from the University, he enjoyed gardening with Cathreen, and walks with friends and family. He continued to be a voracious reader who could startle others with his knowledge of arcane facts. He plunged into geological research and provided logistical support for his brother John’s Yukon gold mining initiative in the 1990s. After retirement in 1997, Fred continued his involvement with the Pension Board at UVic and chaired a provincial committee to evaluate grant applications in science. Regular trips to New Zealand permitted Fred and Cathreen to escape northern hemisphere winters. Fred supported Cathreen’s interest in genealogy and replaced her in the kitchen. Both loved children and delighted in their role as grandparents which expanded to include two Victoria-born grandsons in the early 2000s.

When advancing Alzheimer’s disease forced Fred’s move into long term care in late 2020 his bedrock warmth, humour and humility endeared him to staff and fellow residents of The Kiwanis Pavilion. The family would like to thank the staff of unit 2B for their excellent care and kindness. Due to the pandemic, no memorial gathering is planned at the present time. Memorial donations are invited to either of the following:

Fred’s memorial fund for University of Victoria research in neurodegenerative disorders

The Oak Bay Kiwanis Pavilion Foundation

Condolences may be offered to the family below.

McCall Gardens

  • Salma Pal

    On behalf of my late father, Izzud-Din Pal, I am truly sorry for the family’s loss. Dr. Fischer was a good professional colleague and friend to my father at the University of Victoria. I remember they used to meet for lunch at a regular interval. I understood from Papa that Dr. Fischer was a devoted family man and I am sure the loss is huge and I hope that time heals some of the pain.

  • Colleen Boak

    Hi, Wendy and family and Catherine. I was just just thinking that this is the weekend we did our walk/ run for TC/10K and Fred’s birthday. I am saddened by Fred’s passing. He was such a genuinely nice person. I realized he passed last year, but I want you to know that I appreciated his involvement and his kindness. You have my deepest sympathies. As he once said, My Dad was the same vintage. I know he had a full life with lot’s of love ❤️ but I know you’ll still miss him. It was a pleasure knowing him and You have my deepest condolences.

  • Lynn Hayes

    Lynn Hayes (nee Toal)

    On behalf of my brother Jim and I, we were saddened to read of Freddy’s passing. My late sister, Margaret corresponded with Freddy on a regular basis and him and Cathreen always visited Margaret when in Christchurch. I caught up with them on some of these occasions. When I was growing up, there was always a photo of Freddy at home after he graduated. While boarding at St Bedes, he often stayed at our family home.

    Our deepest sympathies to you all.


  • Brenda Dixon

    Wendy and extended families. I am very saddened of Fred’s passing. Wendy, take comfort in the fact that both you and Martin were so similar to him in your kindness and empathy. Fred and Martin will remain in my memories, always.

  • Shari & Larry Yore

    Wendy, Ann, and family:
    We extend our condolences to you all. Your mum and dad were such kind, and fun, people that we were privileged to know in our UVic lives. Shari especially valued Fred’s administrative skills when he was “her” Acting Dean of Engineering.
    We have good memories of shared times with both Fred and Cathreen, as we trust you all do and will be treasuring for years.

  • Elizabeth McMeeken

    It was with sadness that we read the news back here in Chch of your Dad’s death. Mum, Cath Ford, sends her condolences. I remember you all coming over to grandma’s, Liz and Fred Hill, when we were there. Those were happy days a long time ago. My thoughts are with you all. Kind regards
    Elizabeth McMeeken (nee Ford).

  • Bob Worth

    Wendy, thank you for writing the excellent tribute to your father in his obituary. I worked with Fred at UVic and followed him onto the Pension Board. Fred’s creative leadership in initiating in Canada the LIF-type option for our plan, as described above by Mike Miller, has benefited myself and countless others in enhancing our retirements while providing a basis for passing along the residual benefit to our beneficiaries.
    More recently I very much enjoyed Fred’s enduring curiosity and knowledge on such a wide range of topics at dinner meetings of the Victoria Roundtable.
    Enjoy your memories of this remarkable individual.

  • Christine Ward

    Christine Ward, Hokitika
    To Ann, Wendy and families, really sorry to hear about cousin Fred,(just read the news) I remember him being a quiet, thoughtful man. You will miss him. Take care, Kia Kaha

  • Helen Kempster

    Dear Wendy and extended family:

    I would like to extend my sympathy on the death of your father, Fred. As a longtime UVic employee I was able to observe and admire the tremendous work Fred did on behalf of the UVic family, and in his retirement he continued that same dedication. My thoughts are with you during this sad time.

    Helen Kempster

  • Deborah Greene and Humfrey Melling

    Dear Wendy,
    It is very sad to hear of the passing of your father who was such a remarkable man. Fred was an engaging, patient person and interested in so many things. He always impressed us as a model of devotion to his children and grandchildren who, we are sure, cherish countless memories of his loving support.
    Thinking about you and your family at this sad time.

  • Linda Schlechte Petch

    My condolences on the death of your father. I have many fond memories of Fred and Cathreen when they were at the university. My husband, Howard, had tremendous respect for Fred and his tremendous capabilities.

  • Richard Kool

    Fred was a fine man, engaged and interested in many things, deeply committed to his family.
    May his memory be a blessing for all of his childen and grandchildren.

  • Gail Branton

    Wendy and Ann and Families: I was so sorry to read of Fred’s death. He was a wonderful
    man and I have so many happy memories from Chemistry days and my association with him.
    My late husband, Graham, thought very highly of Fred and enjoyed his intelligence, wit, and
    sense of humour. May all your good memories sustain you.

    Gail Branton

  • enid elliot

    Dear Wendy and Chris and Alexander and James,
    Fred was such a generous and warm man…I always like the connection he (and you all) had with Caltech. I always imagined you all there at a time when of course I would have been as well.
    You will miss him. We all send much love, enid and rick and family.

  • John McInerney

    Fred’s personable, humane and common sensical administrative decision making shone brightly in the University of Victoria environment. John & Bev McInerney , colleague and neighbour.

  • Michael Miller

    We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Fred Fischer. Everyone who has considered the development and growth of the University of Victoria knows how much Dr. Fischer contributed in so many different ways. We particularly want to acknowledge Fred’s outstanding leadership with regard to the Combination and Money Purchase Pension Plans. Fred applied a creative approach to plan design and led the country with implementation of the popular LIF-type option, an option which was eventually adopted in provincial and federal legislation and is now in many other pension plans. His insights and diligent work contributed much to the success of the UVic plans – lasting contributions benefiting all retirees, and current and future faculty and staff at the university.

    Michael Miller, Pension Board Chair
    Keith Dixon, Trustee and Past Pension Board Chair
    Susan Service, Trustee and Former Pensions Director

  • Pat Dolamore and James Cummings

    We are so sad to hear of Fred’s passing. He was such a genuine, kind and patient man. Both your mum and dad made us so welcome when we stayed with them when we were traveling in Canada and we really enjoyed having them stay with us here in Westport, New Zealand.
    What an amazing career and life he had. Thanks for that wonderful insightful obituary.
    Cathreen and Fred seemed to have had lives well filled with joy and some deep sadness. You must miss them so much. RIP to them both.

  • Harry Meeker

    Ann: Sorry for the passing of your dad.
    It sounds like he had a full and active life.
    Hope you are able to have a celebration of his life.
    Praying for your family and you.

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