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True to Her Heart: Fisher Key to Talleyrand Park Development and Bellefonte

by and on January 14, 2020 5:00 AM
Bellefonte, PA

True Fisher has made a huge impact in Bellefonte, and on Dec. 16 she was recognized by the community’s government for her work in helping to make Talleyrand Park one of Centre County's favorite destinations as the chair of the Talleyrand Park Committee.

Now, she is stepping down from the position, but her impact will be felt in Bellefonte forever.

“I would like to thank you for your dedicated service and contributions that you have given to the community of Bellefonte,” said Mayor Tom Wilson. “And leaving us the legacy of your stewardship imbedded in our hearts forever.”

When True and her late husband, Rob Fisher, moved to Bellefonte in the 1970s, they fell in love with it, with the Victorian architecture, the rich, well-preserved history and small-town feel.

After growing up in Lock Haven, she traveled all over with her husband and they both found something in Bellefonte that drew them to it.

“We recognized its historical heritage from travels abroad and to other U.S. cities like Salem, Mass., Savannah and Charleston, and believed in its restoration and preservation,” said Fisher. “In 1974, we found the hospital leaving, businesses closing, but there was a feisty loyalty and pride in the town with a strong tradition of volunteerism.”

As for her own volunteer spirit, True thinks back to her years as a Girl Scout that may have taught her to make a difference in her part of the world.

“The Girl Scouts say, ‘Always leave a place better than you found it.’ I wanted to contribute to my new hometown, to make it even more beautiful, to make a difference,” she said. And she did just that at Talleyrand Park and throughout Bellefonte with a group of people who saw the potential of the Victorian town.

At the time, Bellefonte was considering what to do with Talleyrand Park. It had demolished buildings on the property across from the old Bush House to construct the park, and Fisher said that one council member was getting a little tired of keeping up with the landscaping. The cost of the park had the borough considering selling the land for commercial use.

The Fishers, and a group of people she called “The Newcomers,” saw how important the park could be for the community. They were interested in seeing what they could do to make the area fit in with the town as a place that could be used as a gathering space and help bring people together. And Fisher said the borough was open to working with the group and the Talleyrand Park Committee was formed. Right away, it started fundraising, even going door to door singing Christmas carols and asking for donations to improve the park.

Soon enough they were able to provide the park with its signature gazebo, which Rob designed, along with various other items in the park, with extensive input from the members of the Talleyrand Park Committee. Since then, the committee continued to help develop Talleyrand Park into what it is today — one of the most well-used parks in the county. Sunday Concerts at the Gazebo are an attraction all summer long and the park, with a mix of nature, art and history, is a setting that fits the Bellefonte Victorian charm. Fisher said it allows people a chance to get away while remaining in town.

“You can be in the park and not even realize you are in town. With the creek running through, it is a beautiful setting,” she said, adding that it was a good experience working with the borough through the years. Borough assistant manager Don Holderman often attends the committee meetings and said the work the committee has done in his time with the borough has been vital.

“It’s people such as True Fisher that give of them for a greater purpose. Because of True’s efforts over the past 12 years that I’ve been working with her, the Talleyrand Park Committee has been instrumental in the build and rebuild of the pergola, stream bank restoration, plant and tree plantings, a restroom upgrade, a railroad platform extension, new playground equipment and guidance on general maintenance of the park, “ said Holderman.

“Her leadership, diligence and coordination efforts maintained a solid group of volunteers for more than 30 years. Think about that for a minute. Talleyrand Park is one of the most recognizable and utilized parks in Centre County and without True, it wouldn’t be what it is today. The borough has always maintained one of Bellefonte’s greatest strengths is its volunteers and we cannot thank True enough for all she has done.”

Now, she is moving on from her role as chair of the committee, leaving the position in the hands of Andrea Murrell. She said she is glad to turn over her position to someone as capable as Murrell to keep the committee moving forward, but if she is true to herself, expect Fisher to still be in attendance at meetings when she can. After all, the committee has been a part of her life for the past 45 years and it means a lot to her.

And she means a lot to the Talleyrand Park Committee, and because of that, it is honoring Fisher and making sure that she will be forever remembered in the park by the purchasing of bricks in her name that will become part of a walkway of engraved bricks. The bricks are a fundraiser for the park running through Spring 2020. Inquire at the borough building for more information concerning purchase of the bricks.

Fisher’s daughter Talley (named after her family name, not the park) was on hand when the borough honored her mother last month.

“Our family is very proud of the work my mother has done for Talleyrand Park and the Bellefonte community. She and my late father fell in love with this quaint, Victorian town when they moved here in the 1970s, and they quickly got involved in helping preserve and enhance its architecture and natural beauty. They were also instrumental in promoting the arts in the community,” said Talley. “Talleyrand Park is a remarkable space, and I am grateful that I can take my daughter to see the gazebo and other features that were designed by her grandfather, and cared for under the direction of my mother, the Talleyrand Park Committee and the borough. They have left an amazing legacy for generations to come."

True Fisher stands with her daughter Talley Fisher as she receives an honor for her work as the chair of the Talleyrand Park Committee. Submitted photo.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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