On Friday, May 12, 2023, Wayne Fairchild, loving husband, father, and grandfather passed away at the age of 86. He was an extraordinary man.
He worked for General Motors but was an artisan at heart. He was a genius with wood. He once decided to build a banjo because somebody told him he could not do it. One thing led to another and, over many years, his talent at this hobby would see him inducted into American Banjo Museum’s Hall of Fame. Naturally, banjo music was a regular occurrence at home, but we shall gently skip debate on Wayne’s musical tastes. His banjo playing was a signature of sorts, and we loved him for it...whatever he chose to play.
Speaking of growing up, we thought that he could eat popcorn or chocolate-almond ice cream every day. Of course, we are sure that he didn’t. Mostly.
His skills in the kitchen were debatable. There were “lumberjack pancakes” (half cooked and blackened at the same time). Nobody, however, could prepare a freshly caught fish more expertly. He made an exceptional wine from wild grapes one year, but that is balanced against another batch he tried to make using bananas. One of his lasting wisdoms in this area, as he once shared to his wife, is to be wary if somebody offers you bear sausage to try.
He loved nature and the outdoors, and it loved him back. He was a “Chipmunk-Deer-Fox-Woodpecker (name just about any animal)” Whisperer, who could have one eating out of his hand if you gave him an hour or so.
He loved wooden boats and the water. For years he searched for a Raven sailboat to replace one that he once had, and eventually he found a Skiff Craft motorboat to restore. (That is when we learned that “wooden boat” is synonymous with “money pit.”)
His house was full of sporting equipment because he wanted everybody to find their own passion. One of his, without question, was skiing. Marlene, his wife, met him on the slopes at Boyne Mountain. He was a member of the National Ski Patrol for over 60 years, volunteering countless hours and receiving both a National Appointment and the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his dedication and years of service. Marlene, of course, earned far more important “Endless Patience” awards. His sons followed Wayne into the Ski Patrol and the whole family cherish the friendships that it has brought. We will always be following in his tracks.
He also loved to golf, and his first job was as a caddie. Regrettably, his attraction to the water and the woods often followed him (or at least his golf balls) into this pastime too.
He built a vacation cabin in the sixties, then finished off his retirement home on Lake Charlevoix in the nineties. He also built a beach house, two docks, furniture, and gosh-knows how many other odds-and-ends. This means that we have a basement and pole barn full of tools and machinery, a bunch of which we are not sure what to do with now. After deep reflection, we will probably need to post ads to part with some of these treasures. Look again tomorrow or the next day for one.
For everybody that knew him, we are saying good-bye to a friend, sage counselor, storyteller, kind, and remarkable man. He is survived by his wife, sons, grandson, extended relatives, and friends. The funeral arrangements were private with the immediate family.
If Wayne’s story touched you, please consider a donation to a charity that would support one of the causes that he loved, your local Ski Patrol or one that helps to preserve wildlife and the outdoors.