The Association of U S West Retirees



Fisher to leave Qwest helm


By Ross Boettcher and Paul Goodsell

November 12, 2010


Rex Fisher, the top Nebraska official for Qwest Communications Inc., will leave the company when its merger with CenturyLink is completed next year.

The 53-year-old Fisher, son of a Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. lineman, was named Nebraska president for Denver-based U S West in 1997. In 1999, he left to join a start-up telecommunications company in Denver.

Fisher returned to the post of Nebraska president, with Qwest, in 2003.

He'll remain with the company until sometime in the first half of 2011, when the $10.6 billion merger between Qwest and Monroe, La.-based CenturyLink is expected to be approved by regulators, said a Qwest spokeswoman.

Many of Qwest's state presidents have decided to leave the company because, under merger plans, the responsibilities of the position will be split among a number of executives, Fisher said.

“Those weren't opportunities I was interested in.”

Fisher said he and his family plan to stay in Omaha, but he declined to say what he might do next. Specifically, he would not comment on whether he would apply to become president of the Metropolitan Utilities District.

Current MUD president Tom Wurtz plans to retire Dec. 31, and a three-member subcommittee of the MUD board is interviewing candidates to replace him.

Fisher's experience in running a regulated utility company might make him a logical candidate to head the public gas and water utility. MUD officials have not released the names of people who have applied for the job from outside of the utility.

Initially, the MUD board voted to consider only internal candidates, but it later decided to open the process to other applicants. The utility then hired a consultant to collect applications and narrow the pool to five outside candidates.

MUD board member Michael McGowan, who heads the subcommittee that is interviewing those candidates, said he hopes to finish the interview process by Monday at the latest. So far, he said, the committee has interviewed three of the five external candidates.

“We have not interviewed Rex Fisher,” McGowan said, adding that he has not been given the names of the two candidates yet to be interviewed.

McGowan also said he heard that a sixth possible candidate was deciding whether to apply and could be added to the group being interviewed. After all the candidates are interviewed, he said, his panel will select two outside finalists and make their names public.

Those candidates will join five current MUD executives who already are being considered for the job.

Fisher, a Nebraska native who began working for Northwestern Bell in 1980, said it has been a “dream come true” to work in a leadership role for U S West and Qwest.

Omaha is a special community, and the legacy and presence of this company here has been special to be part of,” he said.

Fisher is active in the community, currently serving on the boards and committees of 12 organizations. He is chairman of United Way of the Midlands and Omaha By Design, past chairman of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and chairman-elect of the Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

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