Hilda Barcan Fishback


Hilda Barcan Fishback, 95, one of the founders of the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, died Dec. 13 at her home at Landow House in Rockville.

Mrs. Fishback was born to Jewish immigrant parents from Russia on May 9, 1919, in the Bronx, N.Y. Working full time upon graduation from high school, she earned her college degree by taking night courses at the Jewish Teachers Seminary.

In the early 1940s, Mrs. Fishback and her late husband, Sam, moved to Washington, D.C., where they helped establish Workmen’s Circle Branch 494E, which Mrs. Fishback chaired for many years. She served as the Workmen’s Circle’s representative on the Jewish Community Council and was also an active member of Yiddish of Greater Washington, as well as of ORT and Metro DC PFLAG. A passionate advocate for those with mental and physical disabilities, she provided teacher training in both public and private institutions, including the Washington School of Psychiatry, and later worked for 17 years as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, supervisor and program coordinator for the District of Columbia government, assisting adolescents with multiple disabilities.

In 1969 she was presented with the National Civil Service League’s Distinguished Public Service Award and the National Rehabilitation Association’s Counselor of the Year Award for the District of Columbia.


In the 1980s, Mrs. Fishback was deeply involved in the founding of the JFGH. She was an active volunteer and served on its board of directors. She also testified at the local, state and national levels on behalf of programs for the disabled.

In 2000, she was inducted into the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame for her work as an activist and champion of the disabled and was similarly honored in 2006 by the Maryland Association of Community Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.

She is survived by her son David S. Fishback and daughter-in-law Barbara Fishback of Olney, her son Lewis Fishback of Silver Spring, two grandchildren, and a great grandchild. She was preceded in death by her husband, Sam Fishback in 1993.

Funeral services were held on Dec. 16 at Temple Emanuel in Kensington. Memorial contributions may be made to the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, 1500 East Jefferson St., Rockville, MD 20852.

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