Fischer, Anna Elsie (1923-1992)

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Anna Elsie Fischer: missionary in Zaire; born 17 November 1923 to Abraham Fischer (7 June 1897 - 30 December 1967) and Aganetha E. “Agnes” Hildebrandt Fischer (20 August 1898 - 21 March 1993) in Dallas, Oregon, USA. She was the second of five daughters. Elsie was baptized on 13 June 1937 in the Dallas Mennonite Brethren Church in Dallas, Oregon. Elsie died in Dallas, Oregon on 16 September 1992.

Following her conversion at the age of 12, Elsie joined the Mennonite Brethren Church in her home city of Dallas, Oregon. She graduated from the Dallas High School in 1941 before beginning nurse’s training at the Emanuel Hospital School of Nursing in 1943. After she obtained her nursing qualifications, she went to study at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas. Next, she attended the University of Oregon Medical School, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree, and later Vanport College and Multnomah School of the Bible. In 1951, she went to the University of Oklahoma to study for a semester at the Summer Institute of Linguistics.

During the time she was studying, Elsie Fischer was active in her church, teaching in Sunday School and in the Summer Bible School (DVBS) programs. In 1952, she applied to work with the Mennonite Brethren missions agency; she was accepted for work in Africa and was ordained at the Dallas Mennonite Brethren Church on 3 August 1952. On 30 August 1952, she left New York for Belgium, where she studied French for a year. She arrived in the Belgian Congo (later Zaire, then Democratic Republic of the Congo) in September 1954 and began her work there.

Elsie Fischer began her first term in the Belgian Congo in Matende, where she helped in a school and a teacher training course. By 1955, she was living in Kajiji in the south of the country, where the Mennonite Brethren had started a hospital. Seeing a need for training among the workers in the hospital, Elsie helped plan and implement a basic nursing course in Kajiji, taught in the local language, Kituba, but with materials written in French. Students would take classes for three years before gaining official government qualifications. Eventually, the nurses’ training program in Kajiji was rated among the top five of 48 programs in the country.

When civil war broke out in the Belgian Congo in 1960, Elsie Fischer and the other mission workers were evacuated from the country. Elsie spent the next two years back in the United States, working at Fresno Pacific College in California as a dean of women, school nurse, and housemother. She returned to the newly-named country of Zaire to work for several more years before going back to the United States to study public health nursing at the University of California. She graduated with a master’s degree in 1968 before returning to Zaire, working in the medical field until her official retirement in 1989. She spent her final years in Dallas, Oregon, where she died on 16 September 1992.  

Elsie Fischer was a dedicated mission worker who used her skills to help build and strengthen communities in Africa. Throughout the years of her service in the Belgian Congo/Zaire, she was an example of vision and faithfulness in all of the circumstances of her life.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry anDatabase of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 7.02 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2013: #6040.

Martens, Phyllis. The Mustard Tree: The Story of Mennonite Brethren Missions. Fresno, California: Mennonite Brethren Boards of Education in cooperation with the Board of Missions/Services, 1971: 63-102.

Mennonite Brethren Church, Board of Foreign Missions. Missionary Album of Missionaries Serving Under the Board of Foreign Missions, the Mennonite Brethren Conference, Inc. Hillsboro, KS: Board of Foreign Missions of the Conference of Mennonite Brethren Church of North America, 1954: 20.

Obituary. Christian Leader (6 October 1992): 20.

Toews, J. B. The Mennonite Brethren Church in Zaire. Fresno, California: Board of Christian Literature of the General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches: 1978: 81, 114, 231.

Author(s) Susan Huebert
Date Published February 2013

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MLA style

Huebert, Susan. "Fischer, Anna Elsie (1923-1992)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2013. Web. 18 Aug 2022.,_Anna_Elsie_(1923-1992)&oldid=172324.

APA style

Huebert, Susan. (February 2013). Fischer, Anna Elsie (1923-1992). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 August 2022, from,_Anna_Elsie_(1923-1992)&oldid=172324.

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