February 10, 1941
Died: February 6, 2013

Dick Fairbanks was born in Indianapolis, son of Richard Monroe Fairbanks '34 S and Mary Evans Caperton Fairbanks. His grandfather Richard M. Fairbanks graduated from Yale in 1905. His great-grandfather Charles Warren Fairbanks was Vice-President of the United States during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and a U.S. Senator from Indiana. The city of Fairbanks, Alaska was named after him. Dick followed in his great-grandfather's footsteps in a life of distinguished public service.

Dick prepared for Yale at Westminster School, Simsbury, Connecticut. He was a member of Saybrook where he was captain of the golf team and participated on its football, basketball and baseball teams. He was the Saybrook chairman of Young Americans for Freedom, a member of Phi Gamma Delta, and on the WYBC board. He was on the Freshman golf team. Dick majored in history and had an NROTC scholarship.

Two days after graduation Dick married Ann Frances Shannon O'Connor (Newton College) so they could have a honeymoon before he reported to duty with the Navy. He served as Operations Officer on the destroyer USS Zellars (DD-777) and completed his active duty as Flag Lieutenant to Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet in 1966.

After separation from the Navy, Dick attended Columbia Law School where he was business manager of the Columbia Law Review and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Upon graduation in 1969 he spent two years as an associate at the Washington law firm of Arnold and Porter.

In 1971 Dick became Special Assistant to William Ruckelshaus at the time of the founding of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. After six months he moved to the White House Domestic Council, becoming Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Quality in 1972. He left government in the spring of 1974 just before President Nixon resigned, having gone through most of the Watergate era.

Classmate Bill Reilly, who also served in Washington when Dick was with the government, remembers him as "unfailingly cheerful, congenial, informal and good company. He had a fine sense of humor and was not prone to complaining about the burdens of bureaucracy or the challenges of governmental work."

When he left the White House, Dick founded his own law firm, Beveridge, Fairbanks and Diamond, where his practice, to use his description, "revolved around the various doings of the federal government."

In January 1981 after the election of President Reagan, he became Director of the Transition Team for his old areas of responsibility at the White House.

In Dick's own words from our 25th Reunion Book. "I then changed my stripes and joined the new Administration as Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations. After one year in that post, I took over as Middle East Negotiator, working on the Camp David Peace Process. As that process faltered, I was assigned to try to bring the parties together in Lebanon, where I spent the last seven months of 1983."

In January 1984 President Reagan nominated Dick to become Ambassador at Large. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in April 1984. His major assignments and special responsibilities were for the Pacific Basin, international energy policy and the Iran-Iraq War in the Gulf.

Dick returned to private life in 1985 as a partner in the law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker; he was managing partner from December 1988 to February 1992.

From 1988 to 1991, Dick served on the Investment Policy Advisory Committee of the U.S. Trade Representative. In May 1991 President Bush named him to serve on the President's Task Force on U.S. Government International Broadcasting.

In 1992 he left the practice of law to join a "Think Tank," the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington as senior counsel. In March 1994 he became Managing Director of Domestic and International Issues, and was named President and CEO of CSIS in May 1999. In April of 2000, he became a Counselor at the Center, and was also a Trustee.

From 1986 through 1992, Dick was President of the U.S. National Committee of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC). During 1991-92, he was International Chairman of the twenty nations comprising PECC. He was also a member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Asia Pacific Council. His other activities included: Member, Boards of Directors, SEACOR Holdings and Clarion Industries; Member, Board of Visitors, Columbia University School of Law; Member, Council on Foreign Relations; and Board Member, Council of American Ambassadors.

After the 9/11 attacks Dick was the founding chairman of Layalina Productions, a public diplomacy non-profit which produces award-winning television programs and documentaries for audiences in the Middle East and North Africa for broadcast on the Middle East Broadcasting company and by satellite. In his June 15, 2005, posting in our class website, "Hearts and Minds in the Middle East," Dick described his 'soft-diplomacy' project:

Layalina develops and produces documentaries, debates, entertainment, and children's programming for broadcast in the vernacular on Arab-owned satellite and cable television networks throughout the Arab world. We have been fortunate to secure the involvement of a team of producers, writers and directors spanning Hollywood and the Arab Middle East. Layalina's key mission is to produce programs that foster cross-cultural understanding and encourage critical thinking. Such understanding can contribute to enhancing the image of America in the Arab world, and consequently relations between Americans and Arabs. The September 11 attacks, the war in Iraq, and the increasing level of distrust and anger emanating from the Middle East and North Africa inspired me to launch this public diplomacy initiative.

The contribution of non-governmental actors, particularly non-profits, in public diplomacy initiatives can help ameliorate Arab skepticism toward the U.S. The interpersonal, apolitical, and non-profit character of Layalina and its credibility and production values make it particularly attractive for Arab broadcasting networks and individuals.

Dick's widow (who is known as Shannon) has a double masters from Columbia in public policy and urban planning. She served also in the government, first as a domestic policy advisor to President Reagan and then as Chief of Staff and Executive Staff Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. She is now running a private investment fund.

Dick and Shannon celebrated their 50th Anniversary with a trip to the South of France in 2012. Dick died February 6, 2013, 4 days before his 72nd birthday, after a short illness. He had continued playing golf with his usual competitive spirit until the day he was taken ill.

Classmate and roommate Joe Holmes described Dick's memorial service and burial: Dick's life was celebrated at "a gala dinner at the DAR Constitution Hall with numerous former secretaries of state, defense, national security advisors, etc., reflecting his tenure in government and at CSIS. The next day I attended the service in the chapel at Arlington National Cemetery with the Navy Band playing. We then walked behind the flag draped caisson (with the riderless horse) through the cemetery. This was followed by the burial with the ceremonial rifle salutes, a fly over and the Navy Hymn by the band. It was very moving."

In addition to his widow, Dick leaves their two sons: Woods of Seattle, who is in high tech and Jonathan of Houston, who is in the oil business, and 6 grandchildren: Woods' two: Aki born in 2001 and Sophia born in 2007; and Jonathan's four: Adelaide born in 2003, Georgia born in 2005, Spencer born in 2007 and Phoebe born in 2009.

In his 2002 Reunion Book bio Dick wrote that he had been asked by a magazine what he had learned in life. His answer was, "hold close to family, to thine own self be true, and leave the world a better place than you found it." Dick's remarkable achievements in government, the law, and the non-profit world and his family life show that he fully lived those "lessons in life."