Francis Anderson Fay was born on May 21, 1919 on Conanicut Island (Jamestown), R.I. He primarily grew up there but coming from a Navy family, he also moved around a bit, spending parts of his childhood on the Yangtze River in China and other time in Washington DC. Francis attended a military high school before going into the Navy and serving five years in the South Pacific during World War II.
Following Navy life, Francis worked as a carpenter and then became involved in what was a unique social experiment for its time. He moved into a Roschdale housing cooperative, a multi-faith, multi-racial, inner city home in Philadelphia. This proved to be a life-changing experience for this young man in more ways than one.
In 1950, a young woman named Nancy came to the home to visit her brother, one of Francis’ housemates. This was life changing for Nancy, as well! She moved into the house and eventually became engaged and then married to Francis Fay in 1952.
After learning of Quakerism through some of their housemates, Francis and Nancy attended many Philadelphia area meetings for worship. Following their move to Madison, Wisconsin, they attended Madison Monthly Meeting and became members of the Religious Society of Friends there in 1953.
Francis pursued his education at the University of Wisconsin eventually earning his PhD and discovering his passion for teaching. He went on to a satisfying career in education at the university level, first at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, and eventually at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. During these busy years this couple produced three wonderful children, Jonathan, Deborah, and Elf.
Over the years they became active and involved with the Quaker worship groups and meetings wherever they lived. These included those in Wisconsin, Iowa, Vermont, Chapel Hill, and Lopez Island, Washington. Francis was an integral part of the transition from worship group to monthly meeting in Plainfield, Vermont. When the couple later moved to Chapel Hill, Francis once again used his wisdom and Quaker knowledge for the benefit of his meeting there, serving as clerk for a term and on numerous committees. He is still remembered fondly by several in the Chapel Hill Monthly Meeting for his contributions to the life of their meeting in ways that challenged them, educated them, and still bring smiles to the faces of those who knew him.
When Francis and Nancy moved to Lopez Island in 2001, they were once again welcomed and loved for their warmth and kindness. Friends from across the country describe Francis Fay as possessing a wonderful combination of wit and wisdom. These attributes stayed with Francis beyond the onset of the Alzheimer’s disease that would eventually end his life. Though Francis suffered from this disease in recent years and was not able to keep up his social contacts, he maintained his physical health and inimitable sense of humor. He kept his family laughing until the end. Francis died peacefully at his home on Lopez Island on December 19, 2013.
Francis was fortunate to be able to be cared for at home by his wife Nancy, with help from their daughters Elf and Deb and a wonderful team of local caregivers.
Francis is survived by Nancy, his wife of 61 years; their three children, Jonathan, Deb and Elf; and six grandchildren: Rush, Robin, Anna, Molly, Zoe, and Jasper. He loved them all. His family is grateful for his long and eventful life and the many dear friends who enjoyed his companionship over the years.