Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer, 65, passed away suddenly Tuesday night due to a “medical complication,” while attending a law enforcement conference in Sandusky. Fischer had served as Greene County Sheriff for 18 years.
“We all lost a very good leader and good friend,” Chief Deputy Scott Anger said. “It’s a void we’ll never be able to fill.”
Funeral arrangements are pending, Anger said, and an acting sheriff will be appointed. In Fischer’s honor, community members placed blue ribbons around trees and poles in Xenia, and flags are at half staff.
Fischer was attending the annual November conference of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association on Tuesday. He reportedly suffered a medical emergency after the conclusion of the day’s events, as he was returning to his hotel room around 9 p.m. Fischer was taken to Firelands Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
The current BSSA president, Hardin County Sheriff Keith Everhart, had spoken to Fischer at the Sheriffs’ Association’s President’s Banquet, just 30 minutes prior to his hospitalization.
Credit: Greene County Sheriff's Office
Credit: Greene County Sheriff's Office
“It was quite a shock to myself and all the sheriffs,” Everhart said. “My condolences go out to his family, the Sheriff’s Office and the Greene County citizens. They’ve lost a true leader.”
Former Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller, a longtime friend of Fischer’s, worked with him for the entirety of his 15 years as prosecutor. Haller described Fischer as “a principled public servant with a playful sense of humor.”
“He was very authentic. I consider him to be a loyal friend, somebody that even under difficult circumstances would stand up for you; stand beside you, just because he thought it was the right thing to do,” Haller said. “He was a man of principle, and when you are, you are going to disagree with some folks. But I don’t think anyone could question his integrity.”
Haller recounted that Fischer performed his own stand-up comedy routine at a Dayton comedy club, filled with his signature dad jokes, to raise money for Michael’s House, a domestic abuse shelter for children in Greene County.
“It surprised a lot of us, like ‘What? You’re going to get up in front of all these people and do all these corny jokes for us?’” Haller recalled with a laugh.
Everhart said Fischer was a mentor to himself and others, and served as a past board member and past president of BSSA.
“There are a lot of sheriffs that looked to him for guidance, and it’s a tremendous loss not only to Greene County and his family but to the entire BSSA,” Everhart said.
Fischer graduated from high school in Fairborn in 1974, served with the Xenia Police Department from 1983 until 2003, and became Greene County Sheriff in 2003.
County Commissioner Dick Gould, who attended high school with Fischer, said his thoughts were with Fischer’s wife and daughter Wednesday.
“It was obvious when you talked to him that there was a real sincerity. He always had a smile on his face,” Gould said.
Commissioner Rick Perales described Fischer as “a dear friend and a gentle soul.”
“I’ve worked with Gene Fisher for two decades,” Perales said. “He was the most kind-hearted, giving, and caring person you’ll ever meet. He treated everyone with dignity and respect. A giant in law enforcement in the Ohio. I will miss his dry humor and smile. He was a man of the people and will be greatly missed.”
Fischer earned an associate’s degree in law enforcement from Clark Technical College, a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Capital University, and a master of science degree in criminal justice administration from Tiffin University.
“He loved people and he cared about this community and about this county in a way that I have never seen a public official care in the 17 years that I have been employed here in Greene County,” said Greene County Prosecutor David Hayes.
The news of Fischer’s passing drew an outpouring of support from law enforcement agencies across the county and state, as well as Gov. Mike DeWine and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner.
“Fran and I first met Gene when he worked at the Xenia Police Department. What always struck me was how well loved he was by men and women who worked under him at the department, and he had that same strong relationship with the men and women who worked for him at the sheriff’s office,” DeWine said. “Gene combined that respect and love with a real relationship with the community. Sheriff Fischer was doing community policing before those techniques even had a name.”