WARREN - When everyone was moving out of the city in the late 1960s, Kay Fisher bucked that trend and made downtown Warren her home.
Since that time, there has been no greater champion of Warren's history than Fisher, who's tireless work has made her a 2014 Community Star.
"When we lose a battle, it's always a disaster," Fisher said of her fight to present important parts of Warren's rich history. "It's my job to keep disaster as far away as possible, and there are always a lot of small battles."
Fisher has played a major role in preserving a number of historic Warren landmarks since moving to Perkins Circle, helping to establish the Perkins Historic District.
Fisher said the battle to get modern-day Warren to recognize its past has not always been an easy one, but it is a fight the 88-year-old is always willing to take up.
"It's been a fight to preserve the historic area, buddy," Fisher joked. "I've been here since 1968, and I have battled with city hall about so many things."
Fisher has worked to preserve a number of historic properties in the city, including the Kinsman House, Woods House and perhaps most notably, the former house of women's suffrage movement leader, Harriet Upton.
A founding member of the Upton Association, Fisher has served on the board for 24 years and has given numerous speeches to Warren school children and at community gatherings about the legacy of Upton and her ties to Warren.
The first woman to become a vice chairman of the Republican National Committee, Upton previously brought the headquarters of the National Woman Suffrage Association to Warren from 1903 to 1910.
"My mother-in-law was a fifth-grade teacher who taught Ohio history, and she knew a lot about Harriet Upton," Fisher said. "At that time, (Upton's house) was a mess and my mother-in-law educated me on her history and what the house meant.
"Until we got involved with the house, no one even knew about (Upton's ties to Warren) at all."
In 1989, Fisher led a movement to save the then-dilapidated house from the wrecking ball and restore it to its former glory.
"We held a meeting of women in the basement of the Warren YWCA, and I told them that I would never be able to go over to the other side and look my mother-in-law in the face if the house was destroyed," Fisher joked. "So we raised $85,000 to match a donation and buy the building. It's taken us 20 years (to restore the house), but if you go in now, it's absolutely magnificent."
Elizabeth Clark has known Fisher for decades, and nominated her to be a star. Clark has worked alongside Fisher on a number of projects, and said she was "delighted" to see her friend earn such an honor.
"Kay has worked tirelessly for this community," Clark said. "She is very concerned about Warren and very into the historic district.
"I talked to her recently and said that she should run for city council," Clark joked.
Troy Kahler, who has worked alongside Fisher for years and also nominated her to be a star, said that Fisher is someone who is "not afraid to get her hands dirty."
"Kay sees a need in the community, identifies a solution and will go and do whatever needs to be done to get the project finished," Kahler said. "If that means she has to haul trash or dig in the dirt, Kay will do whatever it takes."
Kahler currently serves alongside Fisher on a committee to restore a Japanese pagoda that has fallen into disrepair behind city hall. Fisher has served as treasurer and is currently chair of the Perkins Pagoda restoration committee.
Fisher said that what initially started as a mission to repair a unique structure has turned into yet another opportunity to restore part of Warren's history.
"We were looking at the 1888 Historic Atlas, and we found a picture of Henry Bishop Perkins' garden, and in the back corner of the photo is that pagoda," Fisher said. "So now we have a restore job, not a repair job.
"No one had any idea of how old the pagoda was, or that it was a historic thing," Fisher added. "Now we're working on something altogether different, and we have to raise the money to restore the pagoda."
Fisher said the project, which is now in its third year, is going to be completed this summer, as the committee is working to restore the pagoda's outside railing. Fisher said that, once the work on the pagoda is completed, Warren Mayor Doug Franklin is planning to use the building to host weddings.
There will always be a building to save or a piece of Warren's history to preserve, and it is Fisher's willingness to fight that Kahler said gives her the energy of someone half her age.
"Kay is going to be 89 this year, but she is never retired," Kahler said. "She is never going to reach the point where she's done and she's retiring."