Francis Fairman III

Obituary of Francis Evarts Fairman III

Francis Evarts Fairman III, our loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather, passed away quietly in his home on Friday, January 29th, 2021, a few months before his 98th birthday. His death marks the end of an era and a long and remarkable life that spanned eleven different decades. Francis was born on May 30, 1923 in his grandparents’ home in the Wardour neighborhood of Annapolis, MD, a beautiful home where he spent much of his childhood and where he cherished time with family on the bank of the Severn River near the Naval Academy. He grew up in the roaring twenties when Babe Ruth was in his prime and silent movies were the rage across America. His family moved to Pittsburgh in 1927 and were living in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood when the Great Depression hit America. His family moved to the Main Line area of Philadelphia in 1933 which is where Francis spent his teenage and college years attending Haverford High School and later Haverford College. World War II began during Francis’ freshman year in college. True to his family’s tradition of Naval service he enlisted in the V-12 Navy College Program and studied at Haverford, Swarthmore and Duke while he trained as a Naval officer. After graduating, he was shipped to the Philippines late in the war where he served at the Naval shipyard on Manicani Island. After returning from the war, he rejoined his family who had moved to Pasadena, CA. In the years after the war, Francis earned his Master in Electrical Engineering at Caltech and started his career at General Electric. While working as an engineer for GE, he met his wife Gene Cordt, originally from Buffalo, in 1955. They lived initially in Schenectady, NY before moving to Pittsburgh, where he spent thirty years working for Westinghouse in their nuclear business. After retirement from Westinghouse, he formed and ran a successful consulting business where he worked until the age of 70. After the birth of their three children, Francis and Gene raised their family in their historic home, built in 1885 on Amberson Avenue in Shadyside. While he and Gene continued to live in this home for the rest of their lives, they traveled extensively throughout the world for Francis’ work, for vacations and to visit family. Francis was an unassuming man who lived in a modest manner, but he was also a man of many talents. He loved his piano which he played with passion all his life. On summer evenings when the windows were open, there was often applause from the street when he finished one of his pieces ranging from classical to ragtime to show tunes. Later in life he composed several symphonies which were played and recorded by orchestras in Prague and Warsaw. He was a lifelong fisherman with one of his favorite places being Cape Hatteras, NC where he drove rented World War II jeeps over the sand to remote beaches to cast in the surf for blue fish and flounder. When the running boom hit in the early 1970’s we discovered that he was a really fast runner who competed in 10K races and ran daily well into his 80’s. He enjoyed bridge and other card games and was a champion backgammon player in Pittsburgh in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. He was a life-long reader with a huge book collection including an incredible number of history and military history books. Above all else, he loved his family. Neither his career nor his other interests took precedence over spending time with family. He endowed us with his love of adventure and of always exploring the back roads. He valued education and sacrificed to assure that his children and grandchildren were able to attend great schools and colleges. He loved the Pittsburgh Pirates and we have childhood memories of him taking our family to games at Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium where we saw legends like Roberto Clemente, Henry Aaron and Willie Mays play. His love of life remained as he became older. He adapted after losing his wife Gene to cancer in 2012. Although he outlived most of the friends and family of his generation as he moved further into his 90’s, he still looked forward to life every day, even as it became more challenging for him to leave the house. We are enormously thankful that his daughter Mimi and her husband Willy were able to move to Pittsburgh and take care of him in his later years along with help from a wonderful group of caregivers. He was determined to live past 100 but unfortunately came just short. In a life that spanned from the Ford Model T to the Tesla and from the advent of broadcast radio to the internet, he somehow managed to adapt to the ever-changing modern world even though he steadfastly remained a man from an earlier generation. Francis is survived by his three children and their spouses, Fleur (and Tim Wallach) of Brewster, NY, Frank (or Francis IV and Jill Harmon) of St. Paul, MN, and Mimi (and Willy Hiret) who lived with him in Pittsburgh, six grandchildren, Evart (or Francis V and Leelee Bookwalter), Paley, Jillian (and Conor McCall), Theodore, Madeleine and Jasper and one great grandchild, Finn (or Francis VI). He was predeceased by his wife of 57 years, Gene, and his beloved siblings, Philip and Sallie. His devotion and support was instrumental in allowing each of us to live meaningful and rewarding lives. We will miss him greatly. Sadly, his death marks the passing of our family’s connection to the “greatest generation” and to an era that is now gone but that our loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather lived through and shared with us through his many fascinating stories. A memorial is tentatively planned for May 30th in Pittsburgh to be followed later in the summer by a ceremony at the cemetery of St. James Episcopal Church in Monkton, MD. Condolences may be left at