Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish dies

Civic Affairs

Nick Fish was 61

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish died Thursday, just days after announcing his battle with cancer became more complicated.

Fish died at home surrounded by his loved ones, his office said in a statement. He was 61.

His wife, Patricia Schechter, is a history professor at Portland State. They have 2 children.

“The family wanted me to convey publicly their thanks for all the words of love and encouragement sent to Nick since his resignation,” Chief of Staff Sonia Schmanski said in the statement. “Nick called his 11 years of service on the Portland City Council ‘the great honor of my life.'”

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Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish (KOIN, file)

Fish was elected to the Portland City Council in a special election in 2008, and re-elected to successive four-year terms in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Fish was in charge of both the Bureau of Environmental Services and Portland Parks & Recreation. He was also the liaison to Elders in Action, Venture Portland and the Portland Film Office.

On New Year’s Eve, he announced he would resign from the Portland City Council because his illness took its toll.

“I no longer believe that I can do this work at the high level our community deserves and I expect of myself. I cannot escape the very sad fact that I will be unable to serve out the remainder of my term. I trust my Council colleagues to determine the most appropriate date for an election to select my successor, minimizing disruption and cost to the City.”

He planned to resign once his successor was elected. Schmanski told KOIN 6 News that day a special election will be scheduled and a successor could be elected as early as May or as late as the fall.

In August 2017, Fish announced he was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the abdomen — also known as stomach cancer.

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, July 15, 2019 (KOIN)

Fish maintained a busy schedule since his diagnosis in 2017 and was frequently the only council member to attend evening events.

About a year later, he was confident about his prognosis.

“I have always been confident I can balance my job and my treatments, which is why I ran for reelection and fully expect to finish my next term,” said Fish, who was reelected in the May 2018 primary. “People just might not see as much of me for awhile, and I want to prepare them for that.”

Fish posted the following statement on his city website on Dec. 10, 2019:

“Last week, I learned from my team of OHSU doctors that my illness has become more complicated. I am also managing the cumulative effects of chemotherapy. Through the rest of this month, I plan to take time to focus on my health and my family. I will continue to work as I am able and expect to have more to share in the new year.”

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Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, 2015 (KOIN, file)

Nick Fish graduated from Harvard in 1981. While in that area he worked as a legislative aide to Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank.

Five years later he got a law degree from Northeastern University and then spent 10 years representing health care workers in New York.

He and his family live in the Goose Hollow neighborhood. He enjoyed soccer, bookstores, art galleries and jazz.

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