Larry Fifer: New Rotary president learned life lessons on family farm
Lewes attorney and newly elected president of the Lewes-Rehoboth Rotary Club Larry Fifer didn’t realize it, but he was being groomed for a future in law while working on his family’s farm as a child. His family had a thriving business, today known as Fifer Orchards Inc., growing all types of delicious fruits and vegetables for area dinner tables.
Growing up on the homestead in Wyoming, just outside of Dover, young Fifer planted and tended crops, worked the irrigation systems and tended the produce stand that sold fresh produce to his community. He also had the advantage of a wise father.
Through all that hard work and the mentoring of his father, C. Fred Fifer, he developed a management style and demeanor that serves him well to this day. He earned respect for people who worked with their hands and farmed. He learned lessons he uses today in his Lewes law practice.
“From my dad, I learned the values of persistence, honesty and fairness,” he said. “I learned the value of hard work and the satisfaction of seeing results. Farming is one of the great occupations in life. We all need to eat. Producing food for people is fulfilling. It takes long hours and sacrifice. If you truly love it, there is no better occupation out there.”
Although Fifer developed a strong respect for farmers, he didn’t love it enough to make it his career. “I didn’t have the proper commitment,” he admitted. “I had two older brothers and one younger sister who did want careers in farming, so they eventually took over the family business. When I was in school, I had teachers and counselors tell me I had good verbal skills better suited to law. So I always wanted to be a lawyer.”
Off to law school
Fifer graduated from Caesar Rodney High School in 1963 and attended Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., where he majored in foreign language. After graduation, he was drafted into the Army and went to Vietnam, where he served as a radio operator for the First Air Cavalry Division.
After an honorable discharge in 1969, Fifer enrolled in Washington and Lee College Law School in the Shenandoah Valley region in Virginia. “It was an excellent legal education,” he said. “I had many great experiences there, both academic and social. I went to law school on the GI Bill and had a close circle of friends, many of whom were Vietnam vets also. We still get together today to meet and stay close.”
After graduation and passing the bar, Fifer was hired by a firm he had clerked for during two summers while in law school. He was asked to open and staff a new office in the Rehoboth-Lewes area. He worked for them until 1999, when he opened his own law office in Lewes. He has been running his own law business ever since.
Fifer practices criminal law, personal injury and real estate law as well as writing wills and trusts. And he likes being his own boss. “I get more leeway selecting cases and like to work directly with clients. It takes up more time, but it’s a more satisfying way to work,” Fifer says.
Fifer’s marriage of 29 years ended in 1997. He and his wife had one child, John, 44. He met his domestic and current legal partner, Lisa Andersen, two years later and helped raise her two children, Zack, now 25, and Hannah, now 24.
Life as a Rotarian
Fifer has been a Rotarian for four years. He joined both to honor his father and to give back to the community that has treated him so well. His dad had been a Rotarian and also served as president in 1958-59. “My dad was a Rotarian in Wyoming for over 40 years. Dad stressed the value of honesty, hard work and the benefit of helping other people. Plus, I always admired and respected the Rotarians I knew. The Service Above Self motto and the four-way test. It’s integrity-backed living.
“The older you get, the more reflective you get,” he said. “There is a desire to give back to the community that has given you so much. Rotary is a service club. I’ve never been a joiner, but if I was going to get involved, Rotary was going to be the place.”