Interview with Fisher Howe '31 - part one


Interview with Fisher Howe '31 - part one


Fisher Howe started school as member of the first, first grade class at North Shore Country Day School in the 1919-1920 school year. His family was part of the founding parents group that brought Perry Dunlap Smith to Winnetka to run the new school.


North Shore Country Day School Archives


North Shore Country Day School: Stories from the First 100 Years





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Fisher Howe '31 Part 1

Fisher Howe: Are you ready?

Kevin Randolph: I am ready, sir, you just go right to it. So, you are the – do I have this right, you graduated in the class of 1931, is that right?

Howe: Yeah, that's right.

Randolph: Right. So, what year did you start attending North Shore Country Day School?

Howe: Twelve years before that.

Randolph: Twelve years before that. That was early, early in the school's history. What brought you to the school?

Howe: It was the first year of school.

Randolph: Right.

Howe: And it turned from Girton School to North Shore. And I was in the first grade. I missed Kindergarten. Mrs. Keys, she got married while she was a teacher of the first grade.

Randolph: And how did your family select North Shore Country Day School as the place for you to attend? Do you remember?

Howe: Mother and dad were part of the founding of the school. They secured Perry Smith [Perry Dunlap Smith] to head it. They didn't have the money to put into it, that was mostly from the Moore and Walling family, but mother and dad were very much part of the starting of the school.

Randolph: Wonderful, wonderful. And when you got there, do you have any recollection of the campus, maybe some of the buildings? How did it feel to you? Did it feel comfortable?

Howe: Well, let me tell you that my sister was in the grade two when it started. We both went together.

Randolph: Very nice.

Howe: And my brother may have gone into Kindergarten because he was in the – no, he waited. He was two years behind me.

Randolph: Did your family live close to the school? Did that make the trip easy?

Howe: We were on Chestnut Street and we walked to school.

Randolph: That's nice, that's a nice image. Did all of you walk together, all of you kids?

Howe: We did, and we joined with the Greeley children and the Daughaday children and walked together.

Randolph: Very nice. That must have been a special time, the to and from, not just going to school. That's a lovely image.

Howe: Yeah. Well, we enjoyed it and I don't remember anything about first grade but, except that it was Mrs. Keys. I forgot what her name was before she got married. But I think she was married while we were there.

Randolph: Right. Well, I have to say I don't remember my first grade teacher's name, so I'm pretty impressed that you remember yours, so, that's great. Did you end up staying all through school at North Shore?

Howe: Say that again?

Randolph: Did you remain the entire time at North Shore, all the way through lower school and middle school and high school?

Howe: So did my four siblings.

Randolph: Wow! Fantastic! Did the school change? Did the enrollment change over the time that you were there? Did it get larger? Did the buildings change?

Howe: I think so but I – in first grade I wasn't aware of that.

Randolph: Right. But by the time you got, say, to middle school and high school, obviously there you were paying a lot of attention to what was going on in school. What was middle school – maybe let's start with middle school – what was middle school like? What was, what maybe stood out in your experience during the middle school years?

Howe: Well, let me say first that the sixth grade was in building that is still there. I think it's called Keys. And it was Mrs. Griffith. The second grade was Griffin and the sixth grade was Griffiths.

Randolph: Interesting.

Howe: And the thing I remember that we had a – we joined together with some partners and were in business together. And we went through an exercise of how do you get – organize a company? And so Ted Gerhard [Edward Ashley Gerhard, Jr. '31] and I were the Gerhard and Howe Stationery Company.

Randolph: And this was in sixth grade?

Howe: Sixth grade.

Randolph: That's pretty innovative kind of curriculum, to be doing in sixth grade, to be having a business plan. That's very interesting.

Howe: It certainly was.

Randolph: Do you – was it in middle school that you started to have co-educational courses? Do I have that right? Is that when that would have been introduced? Or did that – was that the case in elementary school as well?

Howe: Elementary school as well. I never was in the school that Ellen Cheney [Eleanor Chaney '31] and Lucy Trumbull [31'] were not with me all the way to all twelve years.

Randolph: And was that the case in all curriculum? For example, in science and in math, did you have co-educational courses?

Howe: Yeah, mostly.

Randolph: Mostly. Okay.

Howe: I don't remember any segregation.

Randolph: Excellent. Excellent. What other, as we think about middle school, did you participate in sports? I suspect you did. Maybe drama, music – what other middle school activities were you involved in?

Howe: We were a musical class, although I wasn't. Franny Moore [Francis Moore '31] and Ellen Cheney were very musical. Tom Dammann. But we were into music and athletics every single day of every single year.

Randolph: And did many of these people – you had, you stayed with them all the way through school. So these were people who were far more than classmates to you, I suspect; these were, must have been very close friends.

Howe: Oh, they certainly were. And we knew them very well, although my memory, I can name a couple of them. Others I would recognize their name but I can't pull them up.

Randolph: Right. Maybe if, you know, oftentimes people will look at a class or a group and they will come up with adjectives to describe them. If I asked you to do that, what kinds of words would have characterized you and your classmates, over the years that you were together?

Howe: Well -

Randolph: It sounds like you were maybe involved? It sounds like you were really heavily involved. So that would be an example. Are there other kinds of words?

Howe: We were a very close class and leadership, because Franny Moore and Chuck Haas [Charles Haas '31] and George Hale [George Hall II '31] and Ellen Cheney were, became leaders in the school. And I was a [unintelligible]. George Hale was also one. So our class was always a leadership class.

Randolph: Perfect. Perfect. That is exactly the kind of thing that I was looking for. Is there – did you – obviously geography played a role in who attended the school. Would there, are there other ways to describe the group? A lot of local people? Was there much – did people come from a little further away, in terms of distance from the school?

Howe: Franny Moore was in Hubbard Woods, but we had, oh, I can't remember his name, it was in Highland Park and came – oh, I've forgotten what his name is.

Randolph: Right. So – but it was mostly – it sounds like it was mostly a neighborhood school, by and large.

Howe: There were a couple of – there was an Evanston family, Ashcroft, who were in my sister's class and my brother's class, but not in our class.

Randolph: Okay.

Howe: From Evanston.

Randolph: Let's -

Howe: And I'm sure there were people in Kenilworth and Glencoe, too.

Randolph: Right. Right. Maybe let's talk for a minute – if you can remember about high school? And maybe what made high school as an experience, different than middle school? If anything stands out in terms of participation, maybe in the musical, in the school newspaper? Things like that.

Howe: I only participated in the Gilbert Sullivan. I remember – I remember very definitely every day was a Morning Ex for a half hour and we had speakers, we had classes – I'm losing my voice.

Randolph: Okay.

Howe: Well, we had not only Morning Ex, but we had school counsel, governance and we, Franny Moore and George Hale were definitely leaders in drawing up constitution and running the student counsel. I was a cheerleader. That was my place, was I led the cheerleading and every time there was an announcement of victory, I would get up and lead the whole school in cheers.

Randolph: That's wonderful. You mentioned Morning Ex. What do you think was special about Morning Ex?

Howe: Oh, I've come to know that it was absolutely unique. There was no other school that had a daily – the whole school got together and they sang every day. We always had a song and sometimes the whole Morning Ex would be in school – in song.

Randolph: Interesting.

Howe: The Landers [ph] and before that a lady were tremendous music leaders and they also did the Gilbert and Sullivan.

Randolph: And you obviously were in Gilbert and Sullivan and what were those experiences like for you?

Howe: I was always in the chorus. I couldn't carry a tune, but all of my friends, my sister was always a lead, because she was very good and very musical. But the other thing at Morning Ex, there was a tradition that seniors would sit down with Kindergarteners and you would have buddies in the Kindergarten at Morning Ex and that was a tradition.

Randolph: And still is. And still is. I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about Perry Dunlap's myth and since he was known to you and your family, not just as the head master but as a – in a personal relationship. What can you tell me about him? At school, the kind of person he was, the kind of impact he had on the school?

Howe: He was both impressive, forbidding and congenial. He took a class on sex education, but he was very, always very present and everybody knew him on a familiar basis and very pleased with him. He was very popular and he was, of course, a close friend to my family.

Randolph: Right. I heard – now and again I hear people talk about a cape that he would occasionally wear. Do you have any memory of that?

Howe: Oh yes, I do remember it. That was his winter warmth, was a cape. There's a wonderful picture of him walking with my brother Sam.

Randolph: Sam, I've seen the picture. It is, with a shovel and that is a special -

Howe: They are holding hands as they walk along.

Randolph: Special, special picture. Absolutely.

Howe: My youngest. Well, it was my nephew, Sam.

Randolph: Right. I have – every time I talk to somebody I always ask them the same question; if there was, and it doesn't have to be one thing, but if there was one thing or just a few things that would say the school should never, ever change, would you have an answer to that? One thing or a couple of things that this school should never, ever alter or change?

Howe: Morning Ex and singing together. I've tried – I'm on the board of a school in Colorado and I've tried to get them to have all-school meetings and to sing together.

Randolph: Right. And what is it that song does, do you think? For a school community?

Howe: It brings community, a sense of community. No question about it.

Randolph: Right. And it sounds like you still love music even today.

Howe: No, there's nothing musical about me, and yet I always thought that singing was, and we sang Funiculi, Funicula as well as, what's her name – a hymn – I forgot the name of it. But everything and there was a songbook we used and sang parts.

Randolph: Right, right. Look, maybe two more questions. I don't want to take too much of your time, you are very generous with your time. Are there other teachers? You mentioned a few of them. Are there any other teachers, maybe from high school that made an impression on you?

Howe: Oh -


Class of 1931


Fisher Howe


Kevin Randolph

Interview Format


Interview Keyword

Fisher Howe

Interview Duration



While most of us might be satisfied with one distinguished career, Fisher Howe has had what he refers to as multiple incarnations. He was a textile salesman. Then, following twenty-five years as a foreign service officer, he was dean at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Recently, he has been involved in fundraising programs for a number of non-profit institutions, mostly as a consultant.

Fisher graduated from The North Shore Country Day School in 1931. He was not quite a "lifer," spending only twelve years here. Fisher went on to Harvard to earn his A.B. in history. He served with the United States Navy from 1942 to 1944 and then moved on to the State Department. His assignments there included tours in Norway and the Netherlands as well as many positions in Washington.

Both big and small organizations have benefited from Fisher Howe's expertise as a fundraiser. In addition to his direct consultations, his clear, concise advice to board members has been printed in the Harvard Business Review and by the National Conference for Nonprofit Boards. He practices what he preaches by serving on the boards of the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, Hospice Care of D.C. and several other organizations.




North Shore Country Day School Archives, “Interview with Fisher Howe '31 - part one,” North Shore Country Day School Archives, accessed November 30, 2023,


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