LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Longtime Democratic public servant Jimmie Lou Fisher died Monday evening. Friends remembered her as both a strong political figure and a caring person.
“You only had to meet her once to realize she was a force,” said Skip Rutherford, former Clinton campaign advisor and nonprofit administrator.
Fisher was the longest-serving state treasurer in Arkansas history. She also served the Democratic Party in numerous roles. She ran for governor in 2002, and she narrowly lost to incumbent Gov. Mike Huckabee (R).
Rutherford said he met Fisher in the 1970s when both were involved with political work. He said she was “an encyclopedia” of Arkansas knowledge and could remember facts and details about nearly every city and county in the state.
“The people liked her,” Rutherford said. “When she rode in the parade, or as she walked the parade routes, she was just a magnet.”
President Bill Clinton released a statement after the passing of Fisher, saying:
“Hillary and I are deeply saddened about the loss of our dear friend, Jimmie Lou Fisher. Jimmy Lou led our campaign in the first congressional district when I ran for Governor in 1978. The next year I appointed her State Auditor, then she ran for Treasurer in 1980 and served until 2002, always elected without opposition.
She loved Arkansas and Arkansas loved her back. And she did a fine job as State Treasurer.
I will always remember that early October morning in 1991, when Jimmie Lou introduced me as I kicked off my presidential campaign on the steps of the Old State House. As always, she was enthusiastic, caring and kind, saying just the words we all needed to hear.
I loved her and will always be grateful for her kind and giving heart.”
Former Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said he first met Fisher when he moved to Arkansas and developed an interest in state politics.
“She reached down, helped me out, embraced me as a person who wanted to get involved and learn,” Stodola said.
Stodola said Fisher’s guidance and support led him to successful campaigns early in his career and a passion that continues to the present.
“She always had time, special time to take an opportunity to help you out,” Stodola said. “She helped me out, and she helped out a lot of young people.”
Rutherford said Arkansans can learn from Fisher’s legacy as a coalition builder. She admired Arkansans from every city, political background and belief system.
“You can still come together as she brought people together,” Rutherford said. “She loved Arkansas.”