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Former Laurel Park police chief dies at age 55

Don Fisher waves to the crowd at Jump Off Rock that welcomed him back in May of 2012 after his retirement as police chief. Don Fisher waves to the crowd at Jump Off Rock that welcomed him back in May of 2012 after his retirement as police chief.

Don Fisher, the former Laurel Park police chief who had also served as an officer for the Hendersonville police department and Henderson County sheriff’s department, died suddenly of a heart attack on Sunday, Laurel Park town officials and friends of Fisher said. He was 55.

Fisher and his wife Candy had relocated to Bailey, Colo., after the chief retired from the Laurel Park police department in February 2012.

"We had worked in the yard just last week," Candy Fisher said Tuesday. "I had taken his blood pressure and it was fine. I've never been so blindsided."

She said the family has made no plans for a funeral service but plans to hold one in Hendersonville, where Fisher spent 34 years serving people through law enforcement.

"We want to have a celebration of his life," she said. "I know it's going to be an absolute madhouse but he deserved the best. We will do him proud. I want to send this man off in the fashion that he deserved ... I know people know what Don meant to Henderson County and Laurel Park but what I want to make sure people know is what that community meant to him. I took a backseat to every citizen in the county but that was OK because I knew who he was going in."

Laurel Park officials praised Fisher for his service and caring.
“He had always wanted to go out west,” said Henry Johnson, who served three terms as Laurel Park mayor ending in 2011. “He was the chief of police for the entire 12 years I was mayor. He was a great friend of mine. We played golf together, our families knew each other.”
Laurel Park officials said Candy Fisher had told them that Fisher had died of a massive heart attack. She told friends that the family plans a memorial service in the Hendersonville area.
“I’m sure it will be one of those widely attended funerals particularly by law enforcement,” Johnson said.
As police chief, Fisher combined his years of professional experience with a natural grasp of how a small town department should serve, Johnson said.
“He had experience with the Hendersonville police and with the sheriff’s department,” he said. “He was famililar with people in the community. He taught me about policing. Laurel Park had a reputation for years before he came on as a place that would set up speed traps. He basically turned it all around to a community policing type of philosophy. I think it made a big difference in the reputation the town had.
“He took care of the residents and taxpayers,” Johnson said. In a snowstorm, Fisher would shuttle people up and down the mountain in a four-wheel drive vehicle. “In a small town he was also the emergency management director. He was at his best when we had a bad emergency," Johnson said. "When we had hurricanes Frances and Ivan in ‘04, he was at the desk 24-7. When we had a waterline break in the middle of the night he’d be out there helping out.”
Mayor Carey O’Cain, who succeeded Johnson, also praised Fisher as a devoted officer and caring person.
“Don was always very engaged with our community,” he said. “Even when he retired he frequently returned to Laurel Park and would always drop by town hall to visit. He would play golf with his old friends at the country club. The staff and residents of Laurel Park will always miss Don.”