Fischel Family Remembers Their Own
Spring 2010 Issue | By Emily Frandsen
Stephen and David Fischel’s father, Kurt, was never able to complete his formal education, but he instilled the importance of education in his children.
“He valued education and wanted his sons to be educated,” David said.
Today, David and his wife Melanie are instilling the importance of education in others through an endowment to provide scholarships for first-generation immigrants like Stephen and David.
All four of David and Stephen’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from Germany. Kurt Fischel was forced to leave school in Mannheim, Germany as a teenager because he refused to return the salute, “Heil Hitler.” He went into hiding in the home of a friend, and, at age 17, obtained a visa and came to the United States alone on a ship.
He came from a family of watchmakers, and soon found work with the Bulova Watch Company. He worked hard, making his way to larger corporations, eventually retiring as a vice president at General Electric. Stephen became an immigration attorney and David a doctor.
Stephen was a well-respected attorney, working in the state department. He retired in 2005 as the Director of the Office of Legislation, Regulations and Advisory Assistance. After his retirement, he continued to speak at domestic and foreign immigration law meetings. He was attending a meeting of the American Immigration Law Association when he collapsed from a cardiac event and died two days later.
David and Melanie Fischel searched for the perfect way to honor Stephen and his work, and finally settled on Idaho State University. Although the Fischels never attended ISU, they knew Stephen had a love for Idaho. David and Melanie lived in Pocatello for more than 30 years and knew Idaho State University had strong programs for foreign students and immigrants.
“(Stephen’s) death, in our opinion was untimely,” David said. “We wanted to honor his memory.”
The Fischels hope that their gift will help first-generation immigrants further their education, and help them feel fulfilled in their careers and in life.
“We would hope the recipient of this scholarship would be inspired by my father making the best of a catastrophic situation and succeeding, and my brother carrying on that tradition,” he said.