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Monday, September 27, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sharon Fish-Nebenfuhr, 45; Worked For Children, Schools

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Sharon Fish-Nebenfuhr taught science to children in Seattle, sports to young people in New York and singing to students in Colombia.

While she was still an undergraduate at Ithaca College in New York, Mrs. Fish-Nebenfuhr taught mentally disabled children how to swim and helped deaf children play sports.

After receiving a physical-education degree in 1976, she joined the Peace Corps, serving in Colombia. In Cali, she founded a school to serve poor children with mental disabilities. She taught games and songs to children who, in many cases, could not speak when they entered her school.

She later learned that the school closed after she left Cali, but "she was comforted by knowing that at least for some amount of time, she gave some children a happier moment," said her mother, Sally Fish, of Osterville, Mass.

Mrs. Fish-Nebenfuhr died Sept. 22 of a ruptured aneurysm. She was 45.

Born on Cape Cod, Mrs. Fish-Nebenfuhr moved to Seattle after her work in the Peace Corps, and met her husband at a party in West Seattle. Gene Nebenfuhr had three school-aged children from a previous marriage, and "she loved them enough to ask me to marry her," he said. "I said, `As long as it's OK with my children,' and, of course, they loved her."

The couple, who were married 17 years, had three children of their own, and Mrs. Fish-Nebenfuhr became active in the PTSA at Whittier Elementary School, serving as both treasurer and president.

While heading a committee to buy new playground equipment for the school, Mrs. Fish-Nebenfuhr organized the Whittier Heights Community Council to help raise funds for the project.

When they had raised about $50,000, she, her husband and a group of volunteers built the playground themselves - in one weekend.

For her achievements at Whittier Elementary, Mrs. Fish-Nebenfuhr won the school's Golden Acorn Award.

She worked for many years as a bank teller and as a secretary and treasurer for Seattle PTSA. She also taught preschool at the Ballard Free Methodist Church.

"Night after night, I'd fall asleep and she'd still be working and getting science projects ready for her children," her husband said. "This was constant - she just enjoyed it so much."

In addition to her mother and her husband, Mrs. Fish-Nebenfuhr is survived by her daughters, Zoe, Bria and Liza Nebenfuhr of Seattle; stepchildren, Kristal, Ryan and Karrie Nebenfuhr of Seattle; father, David Fish of Osterville, Mass.; and brother, Doug Fish of Osterville.

A memorial service was held Saturday. In lieu of flowers, remembrances can be made to the Nebenfuhr Children College Fund, c/o Sally A. Fish, 74 Blanid Road, Osterville, MA 02655.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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