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Carol Hupping Fisher, groundbreaking book editor, has died at 74

A lifelong wordsmith and trailblazer, she broke glass ceilings in editing and publishing.

Curious and optimistic, Mrs. Fisher told her family: "Take time to savor the moment. Don’t sacrifice the present for regrets about the past or worries about the future."
Curious and optimistic, Mrs. Fisher told her family: "Take time to savor the moment. Don’t sacrifice the present for regrets about the past or worries about the future."Read moreCourtesy of the family

Carol Hupping Fisher, 74, of Collingswood, groundbreaking book editor at Rodale Press, retired publishing director for the Jewish Publication Society, education innovator, and translator, died Thursday, Dec. 14, of glioblastoma at her home.

A lifelong wordsmith and publishing trailblazer, Mrs. Fisher was only seven years out of college when she became the first female and youngest vice president of publishing at Rodale Press in 1978. She left Rodale in 1988 after nearly two decades and later served as publishing director, managing editor, and chief operating officer for the Philadelphia-based Jewish Publication Society from 1999 until her retirement in 2016.

Mrs. Fisher edited many magazines and more than 50 books at Rodale, including 1973′s Stocking Up, a guide to food preservation that sold more than two million copies, and 1974′s Producing Your Own Power, a precursor to today’s sustainability publications. She started in an entry-level position after college in 1971 and became a magazine writer and editor, and editorial director of the then-new book division before rising to vice president.

She worked as an executive editor at Peterson Press for a few years in the 1990s and helped expand its catalog from mostly reference material to include books about work, home, and family. She told The Inquirer in 1994 that the challenge in book publishing is to stay relevant.

After all, she said, it takes at least a year to edit and publish many books. “Unlike most businesses,” she said, “we don’t have a 10- or even a five-year plan.”

At the Jewish Publication Society, Mrs. Fisher oversaw the release of more than 100 books. She worked with acclaimed Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow on 1999′s Trees, Earth, and Torah, and edited a celebrated translation of the Torah in Etz Hayim in 2004.

“The publishing business has gone through a lot of changes, like newspapers. Being online has made publishing more competitive.”
Carol Hupping Fisher in the 2016 Jewish Exponent.

“Every book is a learning opportunity,” she told the Jewish Exponent in 2016 as she neared retirement. “It’s been a terrific journey, and I’ve really loved it.”

Mrs. Fisher moved to England with her family for three years in the late 1980s and translated works to and from American English and British English. She listed P.D. James, John Updike, and Philip Roth as her favorite authors in a 2010 interview with Jewish Community Voice.

Raised as a Protestant, she converted to Judaism in the late 1990s and was an active member of M’kor Shalom Synagogue, now Kol Ami, in Cherry Hill. She cofounded the Spice Up Your Judaism educational program at the synagogue, was a member of its board, and sat on several important committees.

She embraced religious and spiritual studies, and explored the Me’ah educational program and Musar ethical and cultural movement. She championed sustainable energy practices and organic gardening, and was a onetime board member and birth control counselor for Planned Parenthood in Allentown.

“She was a force of nature,” said her husband, Bill. “A born leader and communicator, she touched so many people.” A friend said in an online tribute: “She was a wonderful, lovely person who I was very fortunate to know.”

Carol Anne Hupping was born Feb. 17, 1949, in Brooklyn and grew up in Merrick on Long Island. She was drawn to words and language as a young woman, and graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown with a bachelor’s degree in English.

She married Michael Stoner, and they divorced later. She met Bill Fisher at an energy conference, and they married in 1983, and had son Haddon and daughter Lauren.

The family lived in Washington at first. They moved to England for three years to accommodate her husband’s job and returned in 1991 to live in Haddonfield and then Collingswood. “She was always ready for an adventure,” her husband said.

Mrs. Fisher liked to garden, and she and her husband hiked trails across the country and in Europe, New Zealand, and elsewhere around the world. She made borscht and mushroom barley soups from her garden vegetables, and did yoga with her husband.

She liked to read books and poems to her children, and she edited their school reports with professional enthusiasm. Climate stability and women’s rights were important to her.

She selflessly shared her recent health struggles with others in similar situations and left a touching ethical will for her husband and children. “Try to do something every day that makes a difference,” she said in her will.

“She was critical and truthful, and held others to high standards,” her daughter said. “But those high standards came from commitment and love, and they were high standards of personal integrity.”

Her son said: “Mom touched everyone she met with her heart and her love.”

In addition to her husband and children, Mrs. Fisher is survived by four grandchildren, two sisters, and other relatives.

Services were held Dec. 19.

Donations in her name may be made to the Kol Ami Lewis & Helene E. Walker Social Action Fund, 1101 Springdale Rd., Cherry Hill, N.J. 08003; and Kol Ami Rabbi’s Good Works Fund, 1101 Springdale Rd., Cherry Hill, N.J. 08003.