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By 10:15 a.m. Monday, Gloria Fisher had yet to change out of her nightgown.

But that should not fool anyone.  

The 92-year-old leader of Senior Voice, a volunteer advocacy organization based in Davenport, works from home these days at a senior apartment building in town.

This month will mark Fisher's 80th year in the workforce.

"One of the reasons I live here is to be on the front line," said Fisher, before delving into some of the challenges her age group faces with health care, transportation and housing. "Everybody says I'm the advocate for seniors."

Sporting a pair of knee-high compression socks, Fisher is recovering from health issues that have prevented her from socializing much as of late. Scar tissue recently caused her legs to swell, a repercussion of surgery several decades ago.

"I'm getting ready to get back into real shoes and having Miss America legs again," Fisher said with a laugh. "We beat it." 

Crippled by a hereditary defect that forced her to stay home from school for a couple of years as a child, the Rock Island native did not let her condition slow her down. Fisher studied under a tutor and graduated early from high school.

'Been there, done that'

At 13, she began her career selling classified ads part-time for a newspaper in Peoria while finishing school.

As men were drafted to serve in the military during World War II, she took advantage of an opportunity to work as a sports reporter and photographer for the Peoria Journal Star.

She covered the 1944 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns from the dugout at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. A Quad-City Times story from 1986 reports Fisher also became the first female to sit in the press box for the Illinois High School Basketball Championships.

In 1953, Fisher wrote an article for the Davenport Democrat, a predecessor of  the Times, about a nudist camp in Hillsdale, Illinois, that "created a furor."

Fisher's story, accompanied by revealing photographs, "caused such a sensation that ... an extra press run had to be ordered to meet the demand of the edition," according to a story in the Times from 1983.  

"I've been there, done that," she said. "I wanted to learn everything and I wanted to try different markets, so that's what I did."

Fisher married once, but she never started a family. She lost her husband not long after their wedding.

"Unfortunately, he died three years after we were married, and I just threw myself into my work," Fisher said. 

Her experience in the newspaper business led to several posts in the public relations, advertising and environmental fields.  

She worked as sales director at Petersen Harned Von Maur and as public relations director at the former Davenport Osteopathic Hospital. Nicknamed the "First Lady of Litter," she also helped form Rock Island Clean and Beautiful, the organization now called Keep Rock Island Beautiful.

"I don't get lonely," she said. "Those were the best years of my life." 

Every day is a work day

While she may rise and shine a bit slowly these days, Fisher still edits Senior Voice's newspaper that is published by the Times on the first Friday of each month.

Someone drives her to meetings, but she stays connected to her staff by phone and fax machine.

Fisher's longtime friends at L.E. Chute, a commercial printing company in Davenport, set up an email account for her and regularly forward her messages by fax.

Bob O’Brien, plant manager at his family’s business, said he speaks with Fisher every day.

“She'll call and give me updates about what’s going on,” he said. “I wish I had half her thoughts."

Fisher, who has directed Senior Voice's mission since its establishment in 1998, plans to celebrate her 80th year of work on April 15.

But she does not want to make a big deal out of it. 

She turns 93 on the Fourth of July, and has no plans to slow down. Both her parents lived past 100. 

"The only thing I miss is my personal life, and now it's coming back," she said. "I've had a lot of fun."

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Editor's note: Look for reporter Jack Cullen's Notes @ Noon Tuesday, Thursday and Friday online at noon. He will capture various sides of life in the Quad-Cities. Contact him at or 563-383-2363.


Jack Cullen covers health and the outdoors for the Quad-City Times.