She hasn’t been inside a classroom for more than 40 years, but you only have to meet Mildred Fisher to know she was - and still is - passionate about teaching.

If you call her a trend setter, she’ll just smile and say no. “I was just being myself.” But being herself meant being an adventurous woman in a male dominated world.

Fisher was born in Indian Territory a year before Oklahoma became a state and the same year the automobile was introduced in 1906. The third of seven children, she grew up in a family who cared about others and who put education above all other endeavors.

“Granddaddy and daddy were teachers,” she said. “My momma helped doctor the neighbors. When I was a kid if we all came into the kitchen and found daddy cooking breakfast we knew that meant a baby had been born in the neighborhood.”

She began helping her mother at the age of five or six, “I used to drive the horse and buggy to the homes mother was visiting,” she said. “I loved to ride horses too. Dad said I learned to ride a horse before I learned to walk.”

With only one boy in the family of seven children, the girls took on many of the family responsibilities, working the land as well as doing domestic chores, right along side their brother.

When both WWI and WWII broke out, all the children in the family had to pull their load in helping out on the farm. Mildred said she never thought it was a tough life, it was just life.

“My favorite chore was rounding up the cows,” she said. But on one day in 1918 she got lucky. Her father took the job instead of her.

As the dark ominous storm clouds started rolling in, her father told her he would go for the cows. When the rain started pounding down, her father ran into a building sitting up next to where the pipes for the stove pipe hung down.

“Back then we took out our stoves in the summer so the pipe was hanging there when the lightning struck,” she said.

Eighty-eight years later, Mildred can still tell you what day the lightening struck her father. “It was May 18, 1918,” she said.

He survived the strike, but suffered health problems from then on.

Bad weather was something any family living in the new Oklahoma Territory had to deal with. Even back in the early 1900’s, Oklahoma was known as Tornado Alley.

“My parents were living in Mountain Park during the tornado disaster of 1905,” she said. That summer a killer tornado ripped through Snider. “We always had a storm shelter,” she said.

One time when she was a child living in Ray, Ok., Mildred remembers having to go to the storm shelter, “We had a neighbor and dad tried to get him to come inside with us but he said he wasn’t afraid. He said he would just ride out the storm.”

Seconds later, she said the neighbor was pounding on the storm shelter begging to be let in. She could hear him screaming, “It’s tearing up the world.”

The man was let in just before the tornado hit the area.

Weather was never a friend to Mildred on her birthday, with it being on April 15. More times than she can remember, it was raining.

“One year when I was about 12 it was raining on my birthday and I cried, which I didn’t do often, because I never got to have a party on my birthday. It was always raining every year,” she said. Upset about another rainy birthday she went to bed early, only to wake up at 9 p.m. with a house full of people. “All our neighbors and friends came by with homemade ice cream to help me celebrate my birthday,” she said, fondly smiling from the memory.

Coming from a family with a father and grandfather as teachers, it was automatic for Mildred to migrate that way too. She would take courses to be certified to teach for a year or so, but the best advice her mother ever gave her was to earn her college degree.

When she first began teaching, she taught at the same school where her grandfather and father had taught. She taught for 41 years, meeting her husband Ted while attending college in Tonkawa. She said it was an instant attraction.

They married in 1932. Ted also worked as a teacher.

Aside from reading, writing and arithmetic, Mildred, always the outdoors woman, would bring in a part of nature for the children she taught. Animals, like lizards and snakes were often seen in cages in her class room.

“I felt it was important to teach the children about nature and animals and how to live with them and take care of them,” she said “I taught them if it rattled or was the color of a penny, not to go near it.” They always let the animals go once they where through talking about and studying them.

Keeping up with her untraditional ways, Mildred was a very good pilot. She had always had a love of planes and the idea of flying. When her husband Ted got a plane, she loved going up with him. She took lessons from him for months and one day he decided she needed to go solo. So he had her land the plane, he told her to go solo. When asked if she was scare, she laughed and said, “You don’t have time to be scared all your thinking about is what you need to do to land safely.”

When asked what one major world event she remembers most vividly from her youth she quickly says “The night the armistice was signed ending World War I.”

Mildred, who was 12 on November 11, 1918 when the armistice was announced, said she was visiting a family friend and the woman did not have a phone, so they heard all the men shooting guns and the women beating pans, but didn’t know what was going on and were to afraid to step out side.

“The next day I went home and found out what had happened.”

She said if there were one thing from her past she could still do today, she thinks she would chose to go back into a class room and teach again. “I think I’m physically able to teach, but I’m 100 years old, they don’t want to hire you if your 100,” she said with a laugh.

When asked how she managed to make it to 100, Mildred smiles a mischievous smile and said, “You just got to grab hold like a bull dog and just hold on.”

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