Editor’s note: This story is part of the CDT’s Active Life special section.
A little more than a decade ago, the State College Police Department reached out for volunteers who could help with different tasks around the station.
Barry Fisher, of Lemont, answered that call.
Fisher, 80, has been volunteering once or twice a week at the station since then, he said, and shows no signs of slowing down. These days, he helps with the paperwork — filing incident reports, crash reports and the like.
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“Any type of assistance they need down there, I can help with,” Fisher said. “But basically I just work on my own with the paperwork.”
Tom King, former police chief and assistant borough manager, commended Fisher for his work, saying it’s easy for the department to get backlogged with paperwork that the records technicians are unable to complete in a small window of time. Without Fisher’s help, officers would quickly end up with stacks of reports and would not be able to find anything.
Fisher comes in, usually on Wednesdays, he said, to do the filing and keep the cabinets in order. He also assists in destroying old records that are past their retention point.
“When we told Barry (records) was our biggest need, he was more than willing to come in and say he could help out,” King said. “He’s done this consistently for about 10 years and has easily made a big difference in the organization.”
Fisher said he spent some time in the Air Force, traveling to Europe with the military, before he started a career at the Penn State controller’s office performing “various duties.” He has since retired from Penn State.
Fisher said he’s also an active member of the State College Kiwanis Club and has worked with the police department to bring officers to speak to the club about community issues. He’s also active in the Centre County Law Enforcement Camp Cadet Program, having helped set up a fund through the Centre Foundation to support the summer camp.
But Fisher is known around the station for more than just his records work. He’s described as a fun person who is easy-going and always has a positive attitude.
“He still holds out hope, like I do, that Penn State basketball will make a turnaround,” police Chief John Gardner said.
Lt. Chris Fishel called Fisher the “ultimate volunteer,” saying he’s dedicated, reliable and prompt.
“He’s always on time, even though it’s his own time,” Fishel said.
In his free time, Fisher said he’s interested in genealogy and is a part of the Sons of the American Revolution, helping at the Centre County Historical Society.
Ultimately, Fisher said he wants to stay active in his retirement.
“The idea when you’re retired is to keep active and do good for your community,” he said, adding that along with the Kiwanis, he and his wife are involved with Meals on Wheels and other service projects.
Gardner said one of the things lost in this day and age is commitment — some people think when they volunteer, they’re not getting paid so they don’t have to show up. This is an issue the police have never had with Fisher.
“I think it’s wonderful to see him want to do this at his age,” Gardner said. “He wants to give back to the community.”