James F. Fairman ’52

James F. Fairman ’52 died July 28, 2012.
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My uncle Jim Fairman died of a heart attack on July 28, 2012, in Gaithersburg, Md., attended by his wife, Stephanie, and their daughter, Leah. It was quick; as usual, Jim did as little as possible to inconvenience anyone else. He was a sweetheart, and he felt a lifelong warmth for his friends at Amherst.

            After majoring in English, Jim earned a master’s degree in engineering at the University of Illinois, served in the army, married his first wife, Jean, and worked for Westinghouse in Pittsburgh. Then, inspired by the legal aspects of the business, he made a career change, earning a law degree at Vanderbilt and entering law practice in Washington, D.C. Somewhat ironically for the son of a Consolidated Edison executive, he sometimes defended municipal utility companies against encroachment by larger corporations. He worked into his 70s.

            Jim’s personal life also had two parts. He and Jean raised two thoughtful, attractive sons, Jim III and David. Following their divorce, Jim married Stephanie, with whom he raised Leah, a beautiful, bright young woman, now herself a fledgling D.C. attorney.

            I always thought Jim’s two best features were his voice—he sang in the glee club at Amherst, and I was delighted when, my freshman year, he attended our glee club concert in Pittsburgh—and his smile. He is smiling in the photograph his big sister, my mother, kept of him in his Brooklyn Friends School baseball uniform. Jim Howard ’52, his classmate at Friends and Amherst, recalls how, when Friends was playing Fieldston for the New York City baseball championship, Fieldston led 3-1 after one inning but then, in the fourth, Jim Fairman tripled with the bases loaded and Friends went on to win 5-3.

            And besides everything else, he was a gentleman.

—John Stifler ’68


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