COCHRAN, GEORGIA – When you enter the reception area of the law offices of Joy H. Fisher in Cochran, you see plants, nice office furniture and different typical ‘law office’ décor. But then your eyes are drawn to the corner, where there sits a life-sized, unisex anatomy body torso mannequin display.
Your eyes widen, and you store that thought in your mind as you walk into the inner ‘sanctuary’ – Joy’s office. It looks typical too – lots and lots of books and stacks of papers. And then you see the skull on a shelf, and the chart with details on the spine.
Then you see the statues of ‘gargoyles’ and photos of Joy in a priest’s robes.
And you have to stop. Is this the office of Attorney Joy Fisher or Dr. Fisher?
Joy Fisher smiles from behind her desk. Her explanation of the medical displays is that she practiced medical malpractice – on behalf of patients. Or she did a lot of that when her corporate office was in Macon. “These are great for showing in court,” Joy explained to The Murphy Gazette.
As per the gargoyles, Joy explained, that the gargoyles are known as “grotesque, horrible creatures, but they serve an important purpose in architecture.”
The pictures of her in her priest’s robes are of her performing a couple of wedding ceremonies. “I am an ordained Episcopal priest,” she said.
It was then that this writer knew that Joy Fisher was going to be an interesting story.
She grew up in Cochran. Her life from the beginning was not “typical.” At the age of two and half, Joy lost her dad when he passed away. Her mom died when she was 11. Raised by her grandparents and influenced heavily by her aunt and uncle, she graduated from Cochran High School in 1972.
Joy received her undergraduate, graduate and law degrees while attending Middle Georgia College, University of Georgia and Mercer University. She attended church at First United Methodist, and went to Trinity Episcopal Church in Cochran as well. “I went to church with my aunt and uncle at Trinity and then went to First Methodist for the 10 am. Sunday school and then services, and I attended Methodist Youth Fellowship on Sunday evenings.”
During school, Joy was involved in various activities, but if you asked her what she enjoyed most doing, she would point at a book. “I am an avid reader. I have always wanted to learn. I get buried in a book very easily, and I don’t know what goes on around me.” Joy said she reads a variety of books, and enjoys mysteries. If she doesn’t like a book, she still finishes it. “I can think of one book that I never finished.”
Her dreams of a career as a child were different than most as well. “I really didn’t have anything in particular … I wanted to get to a point in my education and in my life to where I knew I arrived where I needed to be.”
She explained, “In grade school, I felt like that would be high school, and in high school, I thought it would be college, and then maybe graduate school. In between, I did a lot of living. I was married twice and became a mother.”
Law school came about. When asked why law, Joy said, “The words and language … I was always a student, and the field of law is always evolving … I liked the idea of helping people understand themselves.”
A licensed mediator, Joy had her office in Macon for a time, and was active in medical malpractices on behalf of the patient. Now she mainly does “divorce work, probate work, wills and estates, and no criminal law.”
Joy was a licensed lay reader along with two others at the Trinity Episcopal Church . A lay reader leads the congregation through prayers and read lessons.,During this time, the three were approved to participate in training to become priests.
According to Joy, the three chosen went through 18 months of classes– almost like grad school – on Saturdays at the church. “It was a wonderful experience.” She explained that they had to take an exam and pass it with a panel of priests who went through seminary. Before becoming a priest, the candidates were ordained and served as church deacons for a year and half. She is still active, and is one of two priests – not paid – at the church. Joy also travels to other congregations when asked and when she is not serving in Cochran.
When asked about the similarities between her ‘day job’ of being an attorney, and her role as a priest, and how they fit each other, Joy thought for a few minutes. “They fit very well. Both careers are about getting to know people, and seeing the good and the bad of humanness.”
Joy defined hope as “looking beyond and within … knowing that God loves you and we each must have an honest response with ourselves and others.”
Her life and perseverance comes from her growing up. “I had adults in my life who didn’t tell me what to do but we talked about things. They treated me as if I was an adult in some ways. They trusted me. I made errors, but I kept living.”
Joy didn’t have to think long when asked about her favorite quote. It came from Shakespeare and Hamlet. “This above all: to thine own self be true; and it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man”
According to her, the meaning of the line is simple. In the overall picture, what Shakespeare may have meant with the lines is that one can better judge himself if he has done what he should or could have done, and one should always be honest in his ways and relations. Lastly, Shakespeare’s epistle could be saying ‘just always do the right thing.’
And that is exactly what Joy Fisher – attorney and priest – does – the right thing.