|Birth: ||Dec. 3, 1920|
|Death: ||Apr. 18, 2008|
Austinite created hike-and-bike trail near Shoal Creek
Janet Long Fish could have bought a new car. Instead, she created a legacy for Austin.
The woman credited with starting the first part of the city's iconic hike-and-bike trail - the section that hugs Shoal Creek - in the 1950s died Friday of natural causes at Buckner Villas retirement community in Austin. She was 87.
Fish never liked sitting still, said Andy Fish, one of her three sons. She carted 300 gallons of water in a pickup twice a week in the 1960s to keep donated plants alive on the trail she created, took children to nursing homes to sing to residents and rode horses daily until she was 85, Andy Fish said.
Five days after being thrown from a horse at age 65 and breaking two ribs, she flew to Paris for a wedding, Andy Fish said.
"Her hands at the end were gnarled with arthritis, and she would still play the piano for other people in the nursing home," he said. "She had a saying: 'The music is the last thing to go.'"
Janet Fish never wanted to be thanked for anything, including the part of the hike-and-bike trail she created, he said. She was living on Windsor Road with her husband and three sons in the late 1950s when she decided to start a path along Shoal Creek in Central Austin, he said.
"She was driving an old Plymouth station wagon, and my father had given her money to go buy a new car," Andy Fish said. Instead, she used the money to pay for a bulldozer to scrape a trail from Pease Park north to Gaston Avenue, he said. The city owned the land, and she got permission from officials, he said. She wanted to replace a trail that had disappeared from the area in the 1930s and provide a beautiful place for people to enjoy, Andy Fish said.
At the time, people were using the area around the creek as a dumping ground, he said. People donated plants to put along the new trail, which she kept alive during the summer heat with the water she hauled in her 1941 Ford truck, Andy Fish said.
Janet Fish, who was on the University of Texas equestrian team, lived her entire life in Austin except for a brief period when her father - Walter Long, who has a lake named after him in East Austin - sent her to Los Angeles to study opera with one of the best teachers in the country, Andy Fish said. She gave up singing and horseback riding when she married Russell Fish Jr. and began raising a family, he said.
"She wanted to be as good of a mother as her mother and father had been to her," he said.
Janet Fish, who divorced in the 1970s, kept her children active by getting them to patrol the trail, keeping motorcyclists off of it, said another son, John Fish. "A lot of the neighborhood kids still remember that she made us all deputies and gave us badges," he said.
She is survived by her three sons, Andy, John and Russell Fish; 12 grandchildren; and one great-grandson. Services are set for 10 a.m. today at Oakwood Cemetery Annex, 1601 Comal St.
- Austin American-Statesman
April 23, 2008
Walter Ewing Long (1886 - 1973)
Walter Kaapke Long (1919 - 1994)*
Janet Long Fish (1920 - 2008)
Oakwood Cemetery Annex
Created by: Fluttergirl
Record added: Nov 08, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 44095168
RIP, to an incredible and much beloved woman.|
Added: Nov. 8, 2009