Rodney Fisk, rail expert and former Princeton Borough councilman, dies at 79

Rodney Fisk

Rodney A. Fisk died on September 9 at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx after battling brain cancer. He was 79.

Born in Birmingham, Michigan, Rodney graduated as valedictorian from the Detroit Country Day School and then attended the University of Vermont, where he was ranked third in his class before transferring as a junior to the University of Michigan. He majored in transportation economics at the University of Michigan, graduating with deans list honors and a commission in the Army Ordnance Corps. Rodney entered into active duty in the Army, achieving the rank of captain. He served three years in Germany commanding the Third Armored Division (Spearhead), and learned German well enough to serve as a battalion interpreter. Shortly after being released from active duty, he taught middle school in Detroit. After his job as a teacher, he was quickly promoted to a job as an assistant divisional manager of the country’s fifth-largest department store, the J. L. Hudson Company.

Rodney then attended the Harvard Business School, where he received his MBA in 1969. After Harvard, he went on to join Trans World Airlines in New York. At TWA, he moved up over the years to become the head of the internal consulting group and management appraisal and arbitration.  Rodney used to take day trips to surrounding areas outside of New York City. On one of those trips, he discovered Princeton and became enamored of this small university town. He relocated to the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood, where he and his partner Karl renovated two houses, one of which was a Sears Roebuck Kit Home. After over ten years at TWA, he went on to tend to his investment properties in Princeton.

Rodney went on to work for the National Interurban Consortium from 1980-1999. He headed a group of companies (Siemens Transportation, GE Signal, RJ Corman Railroad Construction) to operate some fifty miles of commuter rail service in the greater Philadelphia area. Rodney then went on to work for Coldwell-Banker Residential Brokerage from 1999-2004. He was number one in buyer-controlled sales by his second year with the company. Rodney was also a US Census Bureau field representative in 2008 and an enumerator (assistant coordinator) in 2010.

Rodney was a Princeton Borough Councilman from 1987 to 1989. He advocated for privatizing the “Dinky” (the short line railroad between Princeton and Princeton Junction for service to New York City). His efforts gained extensive media coverage both locally and nationally.

He was a member of many originations including Mensa, the Rotary Club, the American Ordinance Association, the Harvard Club, and the Metropolitan Association of Railroad Superintendents. Rodney was also a member of the Tri-State Weimaraner Rescue of NJ, DE, and PA. Rodney and Karl have had Weimaraners for over 30 years, getting their first puppy in 1976 and many more rescued Weimaraners have followed.  

Rodney is predeceased by his parents, Fredrick Besancon Fisk and Margaret Barthel Fisk. He is survived by his loving partner of 45 years, Karl Lessig, three nieces, and his beloved dog Sara, who is now in the loving care of his partner.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Mather Hodge Funeral Home.