Richard J. Fairbanks
Date of Passing:
Fairbanks, Richard J, 91, died peacefully on November 24, 2022 at the Hattie Ide Chaffee Home, East Providence. He was the beloved husband of 67 years of the late Janice (Rudd) Fairbanks. He lived in Barrington RI for many years before retiring to Lake Bomoseen in Castleton, VT. His three greatest loves were his wife, his family and music.
Mr Fairbanks was a music teacher head of the music department at East Providence High School for 28 years before retiring in 1989. During his tenure there he received the Teacher of the Year award in 1974. Under his leadership, he brought the Choraleers and Meistersingers on concert tours in Europe, Portugal, Hawaii and Bermuda. While at EPHS he produced many musicals and inspired hundreds of students. As a member of the first East Providence Community Chorus he shared his gifts of choral music with a wider audience and directed the group there from 1962-1972.
Born in Pawlet, VT he was a son of the late Eugene and Blodwyn (Hughes) Fairbanks. He is survived by his children and their spouses: R. John of Fairfax, VT, Steven (Maura) of Bristol, RI and Elizabeth Myers (Scott) of Cotuit, MA as well as four grandchildren Jori Goodhue, Madison Fairbanks and Tom and Hunter Myers. He also leaves a sister, Sarah Beecroft from Naples FL and was predeceased by a brother, E. Bernard Fairbanks
His committal service followed by burial will be held at a future date at the Mettawee Valley Cemetery, Granville, NY. In lieu of flowers, Memorial donations made be made in his name to the Chorus of East Providence, PO Box 14563, East Providence, RI 02914.
Mr Fairbanks gave me the opportunity to appear in Godspell in 1976. I had never been in a show of any kind and yet he gave me a semi-prominent part and a song of my own. At rehearsals he was very dynamic and detail oriented and the entire experience was a highlight of my high school years. It inspired me to do some community theatre as an adult. As for Godspell, we had 3 sold out shows and an encore performance a couple weeks later. It was a thrill.
Years earlier my sister was in The Sound of Music. She told me many stories about her experience with Mr Fairbanks both in that show and with the choraleers.
A great educator whose memory will be a blessing for hundreds of proud Townies.
Thank you, Mr. Fairbanks! The memories you leave behind are endless, and will carry on long beyond your passing, which speaks to your legacy. Thank you for your kindness and enthusiasm in your guidance of the Choraleers and Meistersingers. You taught us to be the best versions of ourselves during our time with you, which were lifelong lessons. Also, you took some pretty raw talent and produced great musicals, never to be forgotten. I will remember you fondly.
My best memories of high school include singing with the Choraleers under the direction of Dick Fairbanks. He constantly made me laugh during those years while I learned the basics of disciplined singing. He was a musical treasure whom I’ll always remember.
Lori Maciel (Class of ’73)
I carry Mr. Fairbanks’ legacy with me to this day, many many decades since I was his student. He was kind and patient and thoughtful, especially with kids like me who struggled and who were misfits. As my music teacher he was dear to me, but it is what he did a few months after graduation that changed my life immeasurably. I was trying hard to make my way as a working musician right after graduation, and I knew that I had to learn to sing. I sought out Mr. Fairbanks. In our first session, he immediately asked me why I was there. I replied that I couldn’t sing. He asked me if I could talk. Of course I said yes. He then paused, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “If you can talk, then you can sing.” That moment changed the world for me forever. It’s a story (and a personal reminder) that I carry with me all these years later, and I tell it whenever I encounter anyone who may have self-doubts. I ran into him a year or so after that in a club I was playing in Vermont. I was thrilled and feel grateful I got to thank him. That kid who was down and out in high school, became the luckiest kid in the world because of Mr. Fairbanks.
My time in meistersingers in the class of 67 were most fondest memories. We so enjoyed the concerts and musicals with mr Fairbanks and one memory was when some of us went to his house Christmas caroling. Special times. I’ll never forget him.
Mr. Fairbanks was the bright light in my school days. In fact, his unique combination of kindness, humor, talented teaching, passion for music, and, perhaps most important, compassion for all, is what kept me in high school. Without Dick Fairbanks, I would have quit. Simple as that. All these years later, as I ponder the powerful impact he had on my life’s trajectory, I wonder how many other students owe their high school graduations to this wonderful man. Heartfelt condolences to his family. May his remarkable spirit sustain you at this painful time.
I was a member of the Meistersingers (Class of 1971) and have so many great memories of it. When I wanted to join the soprano section was full so Mr. Fairbanks let me sing for him and said I could be a second alto. It introduced me to the joy of harmonizing and I havent sung soprano since! A wonderful man!
I was there when Mr. Fairbanks came to EPHS. I spent 2 years as a choraleer which were the best times of my high school experience. I had the sub lead in the Music Man in 1962/1963 and he took some of us to Mass and Vermont in my junior and senior years to the All New England Music Festival. It was alot of work but so much fun. I was still singing at almost 78 years of age in my church choir until I moved to Florida. Music is still an important part of my life thanks to Mr. Fairbanks. I will never forget him and I hope some day he can lead me in a heavenly choir.
Mr. Fairbanks left a legacy of treasured memories to those he taught in chorus. Attending his Choraleer classes included work & practice but guaranteed hearing his reverberant laughter, and being the beneficiary of his balanced, skillful teaching and creativity. When he took the Choraleers (50 teenager girls!!) to Austria & Switzerland to sing in 1975, he did so with joy, composure, spirit & dedication. The guy was never mad! He made a difference in our lives & probably was the major reason why I loved my high school years so much. R.I.P., Mr. Fairbanks! Thank you!
Everything has already been said about this enthusiastic, talented man. My years in Meistersingers were my favorite high school memory! I will always remember how kind and encouraging he was during our
“ auditions” to be part of the chorus.
My sincere condolences to his family- A life well lived!
I looked forward to making my way to the chorus room every day. Mr. Fairbanks taught us so much about music and having fun. We sang our hearts out for him. Being a Choraleer was an honor I’ve not ever forgotten. My condolences the family of this wonderful man.
My first experience with Mr. Fairbanks was in 1966-68 when my older brother Jeff was in Meistersingers and the family would go to all the concerts. I was a member of that same group from 1974-76. My favorite time was the Christmas concerts and the Song of Galilee with the combined choirs and that awesome kettle drum! I still sing all the time, now mainly with the radio! He is directing a wonderful choir of angels now in Walk On Rudolph!
What a wonderful man. I loved being a Choraleer with Mr Fairbanks when I was a student and later when I was privileged to be his colleague. God Bless and lead the heavenly choir now❤️
So saddened to read that Mr. Fairbanks passed. My deepest sympathy to his family. I remember, so clearly, his deep voice and hearty laugh. He was a very caring teacher/director and instilled pride & confidence in so many students. Being one of his Choraleers was truly the best experience.
Choraleer, Class of 1974. Mr. Fairbanks was a special teacher who taught me to enjoy singing and to sing with joy. I was in the group that he took to Portugal for a week of concerts. Although I have lost touch with many of my fellow classmates, I still remember that time fondly and Mr. Fairbanks was part of that. His smile lives on.
I have many fond memories of Mr. Fairbanks as a member of the Choraleers for the 3 years i was at EP. He is most certainly directing a choir of angels! RIP Mr. Fairbanks.
Gail (Rose) Davis Class of 1970
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, the picture of Mr. Fairbanks with this obit encompasses all of my memories of the man. That smile is and was contagious. He loved and embraced life. If you were down, his boisterous chuckle would remind the “teenage” you not to take life so seriously. I loved my time in the meister singers and choraleers, it gave me the courage I needed to pursue my own singing career. Rest In Peace my friend.
Mr. Fairbanks was a special man and a favorite teacher. I had the honor and pleasure of singing in the sophomore chorus and then the Choraleers for 2 years. He demanded perfection, but always made it fun. He cared deeply about his students and had a smile that would light up a room and the stage. My time under his direction is among my fondest memories of my time at EPHS. He can now lead the choir of angels. May he RIP.
I was saddened to learn of the passing of a Townie icon and famously known music educator, Mr. Dick Fairbanks. He was a wonderful choral director at EPHS for 30 years and also worked with the EP Community Chorus. The music department at EPHS has always been second to none – back in the day, as it is now. Some of my best memories of being a student at EPHS were as a member of the Crimson Boys Choir (yes I can sing, no I don’t do solos). Dick Fairbanks and his famous girls Choraleers entertained sold-out EPHS auditoriums every year. Especially the Christmas concert. I can still see and hear the Choraleers walking in from the rear of the packed auditorium, holding candles and singing “let all mortal flesh keep silent,” followed by “Oh Holy Night.”
Dick Fairbanks took many trips to Europe and beyond with the Choraleers and Meistersingers. His EPHS musicals were fantastic, as good as any on Broadway. Education and culture at its finest.
At the end of every Christmas Concert, each year, Mr. Fairbanks would raise the house lights and invite all former Townie choir members to come on stage and join that current class for the big “el yivneh hagalil” ending. Many came forward. It was epic. A rich tradition.
Dick Fairbanks, age 91, a treasured Townie music educator and so much more. RIP sir.
Richard Fairbanks has a held a special place in my heart since 1969 when I became part of the Choraleers. His love of music, his infectious laugh and his affection for me made singing all that much more fun. I was fortunate to see him off and on through the years, always with that sparkle in his eye. We had no trouble reliving that trip to the British Isles in 1971 and laughing together about all that went on.
It was a wonderful experience to sing one more time under his direction at the Chorus of East Providence concert several years ago. Whenever I sing “O Holy Night” in the St. Margaret Church Choir it is like we are still together in 1969.
I will always remember him.
Pat Colella Armstrong Class of 1970