Happy Birthday, Fran

I don’t really know Fran Fisher. But like most long-time Nittany Lion fans, I feel like I know Fran Fisher.

The voice of Penn State football for the better part of Joe Paterno’s tenure, Fran turned 90 on Monday. Though he retired from his radio play-by-play duties back in 2000, he’s still a regular—and welcome—presence around the program. A couple of columns by two of the veterans of the Nittany Lion football beat make clear why we’re lucky to have him around.

RadioFranAmong the terrific facts and anecdotes Mike Poorman ’82 shares in this StateCollege.com tribute is a reference to the occasional “working” lunches he shares with Fran, Lou Prato ’59, and a guest. I was lucky enough to be their fourth a couple of years ago; I’ve known Mike for years and am friendly with Lou, but I’d never talked to Fran beyond the occasional “hello.” By the time lunch was over, after many laughs and wonderful stories, I felt like I’d known Fran for years, too.

Neil Rudel ’78 of the Altoona Mirror posted this story on Friday, and it offers more proof for why Fran is nothing less than a treasure. Along with Lou and our own John Black ’62, Fran is on a very short list of people whose knowledge of Penn State football’s past and present is unrivaled.

Fran never graduated from Penn State—as Mike points out, he left school to join the Navy in 1942—but he was made an Honorary Alumnus in 2008. It’s hard to imagine anyone more deserving of the honor.

For more on The Football Letter, including online archives (requires Alumni Association member log-in), click here.

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