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Pittsburgh native Lucretia Fisher led Baltimore preservation fight

| Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011

When Lucretia Billings Fisher devoted her time and talents to historic preservation in the Baltimore area, she followed a family tradition of service to one's community that began when her maternal ancestors, the LeMoynes, arrived in the colonies during the Mayflower period.

In the 1960s, Mrs. Fisher and her brother, Kirk LeMoyne Billings, succeeded in halting the demolition of historic rowhouses on Thames Street in Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood for the proposed East-West Expressway.

Lucretia "Lu" Billings Fisher of Ruxton, Md., died on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011, in her home. She was 98.

Her daughter, Sally Fisher Carpenter of Barrington, R.I., recalled her mother as an energetic woman who met problems head-on, yet was warm, loving and caring to her family.

Born in Squirrel Hill and raised in Sewickley, Lucretia Billings was one of three children in the family of Dr. F. Termaine Billings, a cardiologist at West Penn Hospital, and his wife, Romaine LeMoyne Billings.

While growing up in Squirrel Hill, Lucretia Billings attended the Thurston School in Shadyside before enrolling in the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

Her nephew, John Howe Billings of Squirrel Hill, recalled his aunt as being a fine tennis player at the Thurston School and a cheerful, independent woman who along with her family attended services in Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside.

"About four years ago, I was taking my son to visit the different colleges that he wanted to attend," he said. "We visited with my aunt, and although she was in her 90s, she was impressive and immaculate in maintaining her home."

In 1933, Lucretia Billings married Dr. Murray A. Fisher, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins, and settled in the Baltimore area, where she penned two children's books, "Two Monsters: A Fable" and "The Butterfly and The Stone."

Mrs. Fisher's maternal grandfather, Dr. Francis LeMoyne, and his son, Kirk LeMoyne, were among the founders of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh in 1883.

They first endowed a cot for children at a local hospital before establishing the 15-bed Pittsburgh Hospital for Children. To honor Dr. LeMoyne's vision and memory, the hospital established the Frank LeMoyne Society for those who contribute from $1,000 to $9,999.

One of Mrs. Fisher's ancestors, Abraham Kirkpatrick, served as a major with the Colonial Army during the Revolutionary War and was interred in the churchyard of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Downtown, before being moved to Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville.

Before and during the Civil War, Mrs. Fisher's great-grandfather, Dr. Francis Julius LeMoyne of Washington, Washington County, was an abolitionist who harbored runaway slaves and founded LeMoyne College in Memphis.

In addition to her daughter Sally, she is survived by another daughter, Lark Fisher of Baltimore; sons, Alexander M. "Sandy" Fisher of Manakin-Sabot, Va., and Daniel B. Fisher of Cambridge, Mass.; nephew, John Howe Billings Sr. of Squirrel Hill; great-niece, Lyndsey Billings of Chicago; and great-nephew, John Howe Billings Jr. of Rochester, N.Y.

She was preceded in death by her brothers, F. Termaine Billings Jr. and Kirk LeMoyne Billings.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Dec. 11 in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Towson, Md., at 1710 Dulaney Valley Road, where she was a member.

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