Donald Thomas Fish


Donald Thomas Fish, 85, of 1624 Stardust Lane, Olean, New York, passed away on Thursday, March 18, 2021, at his home surrounded by his loving wife and family.

Don was born June 23, 1935, in Middle Granville, New York, and was a son of Floyd and Anna (Tomaszewski) Fish. In 1963, he married Louise Sullivan of Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, who predeceased him in 1989. In 1993, he married Gay Sheahan of Olean, who survives.

Don graduated from Granville Central High School in 1952 as the class valedictorian and then received a bachelor of arts, magna cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame in 1956. Don graduated from Georgetown University Law School in 1959 and then began his long and productive law career.

Don was proud to serve in the U.S. Army during the Berlin Crisis as an advanced paramedic.

In his early law career, he worked for the Washington, D.C., Corporation Counsel, and then in law firms including Hornburg, Diggs and Dwyer in Olean, New York. Don returned to Washington to work in the U.S. Department of Justice under Attorney General Robert Kennedy, whom he remembered as the best boss he ever had.

Don chose to leave government work to follow his dream of his own small practice in Olean, where he formed McCarthy and Fish. Don loved the reasoned thought behind law, and his practice focused on justice, integrity and the counsel of his community.

Don served on many boards, including Olean Wholesale Grocery, Cattaraugus Abstract Corporation, and Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Retreat. He was an active reader and a spiritual person who explored his Catholic faith’s intellectual tradition in depth.

Don was a dedicated and active Notre Dame alumnus throughout his life. He will most definitely be remembered for fun-filled weekends spent with family and friends attending “Fighting Irish” football games in South Bend, Indiana.

First and foremost, Don was a loving and dedicated husband, father, grandfather, son, brother and friend. The combination of his large heart, integrity and service made being a grandfather one of Don’s (Poppy’s) greatest successes.

Along with his loving wife, Gay Fish, Don is survived by two daughters Meg (Peter) Saligman and Mary Catherine (James Kaplan) Fish; grandchildren Lindsay, Robby, Nina and Daniel Saligman, Lucas and Joseph Kaplan and Ethan Kelley; brother Col. Edward F. (Nancy) Fish, USAR Ret.; many nieces including Kim Fish, Lisa (John) Manchester, Jennifer (Jon Warzocha) Fish and one nephew Col. Edward J. (Robin) Fish Sr., USA Ret.; grandnieces, grandnephews and great neighbors Mike and Mary Freeman-Kelley.

Along with his first wife Louise, Don was predeceased by his parents and three brothers, Joseph, Vernon and Patrick Fish.

Friends were received at the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels, 202 South Union St., Olean, on Friday, March 26, at which time a Mass of Christian Burial was held. Don was buried at St. Bonaventure Cemetery in Allegany, with full military honors awarded by the Allegany American Legion. The family also plans a memorial celebration for this summer.

Although Don’s sense of humility compelled him never to attach his name to donations, contributions may be made in Don’s honor to causes he found meaningful: The Sorin Society, University of Notre Dame, 1100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556 and Mt. Ireneaus Franciscan Retreat, PO Box 100, West Clarksville, NY 14786.