From the Burlington Free Press: Dr. Laura T. Fishman of South Burlington passed away peacefully on May 22, 2014, at the Burlington Health and Rehabilitation Center in Burlington. She was 76 years old and born Laura Frances Thomasson. Dr. Fishman grew up in the comfortable Sugar Hill section of Harlem in New York City. Her mother was a school teacher and her father a postal service employee. Laura excelled in school and enjoyed competitive swimming. She earned her bachelor's degree cum laude, with honors at Pembroke College of Brown University, then a master's degree in sociology at the University of Chicago. After marrying, Laura then lived in Mexico for a year where she wrote her master's thesis. Laura returned to New York to work in an anti-poverty agency and then began her full time career as a teacher of sociology in New York colleges. In 1969, her son, Aryeh Fishman, was born and two years later she and her family moved to Vermont where she began teaching in the Sociology Department of the University of Vermont. Her youngest son, Damian Fishman was born in 1973. After becoming a single mother, Laura earned a doctorate in sociology at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada in 1984. Dr. Fishman continued to teach at UVM and is the author of the book, Women at the Wall: A Study of the Wives of Prisoners, in addition to authoring numerous scholarly articles and papers. Dr. Fishman taught courses in race relations and was an acknowledged expert in the field of criminal justice. She also applied this expertise by consulting in correctional systems in New York and Vermont on issues facing prisoners with HIV and their families. Additionally, Laura served as an expert witness in many criminal trials and a speaker for academic and community events. She took immense satisfaction in teaching, and in her intellectual and social relationships with students and colleagues. She was known for constructively challenging her students to reach new levels of excellence. Dr. Fishman retired from teaching at UVM as Professor Emerita of Sociology and Associate Professor. In addition to a robust academic life, Laura also was very active in the community and, among other things, served on the board of directors for organizations such as Women Helping Battered Women, the Vermont Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, and Dismas House. Her other favorite activities included reading, music, walking the beach on the shores of Maine, and enjoying stimulating conversation with friends. She will forever be remembered for her ready smile, compassion, quick wit, and her strong sense of justice. She is also remembered by the great love she displayed for her cats, the joy she took in flowers and art, as well as the pride that she took in her home and her children. Her parents, Laura and Tom Thomasson, precede her in death. She is survived by her two loving sons, Aryeh and Damian; her daughter-in-law, Jenny Fishman; her grandchildren, Ori and Elyse; her many cousins, extended family members, and friends, including her ex-husband and longtime friend, Marvin Fishman.
A memorial celebration was held on Saturday, July 26th, at 2:30 pm, in John Dewey Lounge in the Old Mill Building on the campus of the University of Vermont.
Some of her spirit is captured in her statement at UVM’S Graduation Ceremony in 2005