Obituary: Nancy Nieland-Fisher / Dermatologist for three decades

Dec. 22, 1939--March 28, 2009

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Nancy Nieland-Fisher, a renowned Pittsburgh dermatologist, died yesterday from complications of Alzheimer's disease at Presbyterian SeniorCare in Oakmont. She was 69.

The first woman to preside over the Allegheny County Medical Society, she served one term as its leader in the mid-1990s. Her medical practice spanned three decades.

"People in the hospital knew her," said her husband, Richard Fisher. "People in hospice knew her. Everywhere she went, people knew her. ...

"Her focus was in giving care. Even in her Alzheimer's location, she would go up to someone and if she saw something on a woman's face, she would say, 'You should have someone look at this.' "

She grew up in Hedgesville, W.Va., the oldest daughter in a family of nine children. "She was a caregiver since she was a child," her husband said.

Known for thoroughness, she checked spaces between her patients' fingers and toes for signs of skin problems and issued stern warnings about limiting sun exposure.

Barry Paris, a writer and former Post-Gazette reporter and critic, was a friend of Dr. Nieland-Fisher. He said she was featured in national magazines in the 1970s and 1980s when she espoused the use of "safe alternatives to what would later become Botox. ... Her emphasis was always on safety as opposed to cosmetics."

Dr. Nieland-Fisher was a clinical assistant and associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine from 1977 until several years ago.

After graduating from Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va., she completed medical school at West Virginia University and post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee.

She lived in Shadyside until her health deteriorated.

Dr. Nieland-Fisher and her ex-husband, Dr. Michael Nieland, were the subjects of the 1997 book "A Family Divided," which chronicled their dispute over custody of their children in the 1980s.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by five children, Brita Boyd of Chapel Hill, N.C., Sarah Davis of Chicago, Jennie Niedelman of Squirrel Hill, Nathaniel Nieland of Squirrel Hill and Ariel Nieland of Shadyside; and six siblings.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the John Freyvogel Funeral Home, 4900 Centre Ave. A service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, 5121 Westminster Place.


Diana Nelson Jones can be reached at djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626.


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