Local News

December 16, 2012

When Doug met Evelyne

World events, family histories collide and forge union between Plattsburgh couple

PLATTSBURGH — No one with a pulse can be in a room with Doug and Evelyne Skopp and not witness the love between them.

It’s in the way they look at each other. The way they hold each other. The way they smile.

Their journey toward each other and Plattsburgh began in California and Germany, respectively.


Douglas Richard Skopp is of American-Jewish ancestry and was raised in Los Angeles. His maternal grandmother, Rosa Fisher, emigrated from Odessa as a 16-year-old girl. She told him she didn’t come to America for herself or his mother.

“She said, ‘I knew you would have a better life,’” said Doug, SUNY Plattsburgh professor emeritus and college historian. “That had an enormous impact on me. She had sacrificed so much, and my mother’s life wasn’t so easy, either.”

Rosa began her voyage accompanying her 18-year-old sister, Sofie, who died at sea. In 1904 or 1905, Rosa got off the boat at Ellis Island in New York City.

“Between the two girls, they had $300, which was a lot of money. My grandmother had all the money. She couldn’t speak English and had a toothache. Someone took her to a dentist in the harbor.”

“Painless Parker,” as the unscrupulous dentist advertised, gave Rosa gas, put her out and pulled all the teeth in her mouth.

“When she came to, she had no teeth,” Doug said. “He said he would sell her a pair of false teeth for $300. So, she had no money. I’ve heard that story ever since I was a child.”

The destitute Rosa answered a newspaper ad placed by a 27-year-old widower seeking a wife and mother for his two children in Springfield, Ill.

“She finds a way to contact him,” Doug said. “He sends her money for the train ticket. And, she marries him. His name is Zigman Fisher. She bears him three more children, the youngest of which was my mother. They are married 50 some years before he died.”

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