Rev. Richard A. Fairbanks, 64, of Nebraska City died at St. Mary’s Community Hospital – Nebraska City on Sept. 10, 2012.
He is survived by wife, Rev. Dorthea Fairbanks of Nebraska City; children Keith and Mindy Fairbanks of Hampstead, N.C., Stacy and Kent Blum of Nebraska City, Amanda and Justin Lorimer of Omaha, Tim and Penny Putscher of St. Libory, Bryan and Angie Putscher of Ashland, Rebecca and Joel Meyer of Overland Park, Kan,m and Amber Putscher of Nebraska City; grandchildren Ashley, Addison, Makensi, Sydney, Christian, Kyle, Jonathan, Kira, Chala, Jeremy, Eric and his wife Leah and children Caleb and Jacob, Noah, Hosea, Silas, Gideon, Kolton, and Abbey; brothers Paul and Elaine Graham, Kenneth and Deb Fairbanks, and sister Kay and Ron Bockstadter, all of Wood River.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents and infant brother Glen Dale.
He loved his family. He loved the land. He loved God. Those are the three things to remember about Richard Fairbanks. Born into a farming family in Wood River, Neb., on Feb. 1, 1948, Richard grew up working the land. After graduating high school, he farmed with his family. He wore cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and was at peace being outdoors. He felt a calling to become closer to God, to work in his faith, but he didn’t act on that calling. Instead, feeling restless, he joined the military and was shipped to Vietnam. He was a brave man. He served only two years as a sergeant in the Army, but during that time he earned a Bronze Star, a bravery medal, an Army Commendation Medal, and Combat Infantry Badge. He was discharged from the Army in 1970 and came home to farm again. The restless feeling persisted.
In 1971, he married Nancy Edwards and soon had three children to look after. Keith, Stacy, and Amanda helped fill the questioning void in his soul and he was happy. He continued to farm and then began to work for the United States Department of Agriculture Compliance Division. He still wore his cowboy boots and cowboy hat, still felt a longing to serve others.
In the mid-90s, Richard found himself divorced and lost. A chance meeting with an old friend marked the turning point. The friend, whom he discovered loved flowers and nature and God as much as he did, inspired him to answer the call he had been hearing nearly his whole life.
Richard began a new life as a student at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City. The friend also lit another spark within Richard. On Oct. 11, 1996, Richard wed his friend, Dorthea Smeall Putscher, at the Powell Gardens in Kansas City, the place where he first realized he loved her. By saying “I do,” Richard gained four more children, Tim, Bryan, Rebecca and Amber.
Page 2 of 2 - Dorthea encouraged Richard in his faith journey, and he became a United Methodist minister. The restless feeling disappeared. Richard Fairbanks began life as Pastor Richard and he never felt more at peace.
Richard went home to the Lord on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, following a tragic motor vehicle accident. He was the pastor at the Falls City Bethel United Methodist Church at the time of his death.
His family will remember his quietness, his strength, and his love for his grandchildren. They will remember his cowboy boots, his cowboy hat, and his bond with nature and animals. They will remember how he loved to sit on his porch and watch wildlife in his backyard, how he had a secret wish to be a cowboy. Mostly, Richard will be remembered for his faith and deep capacity for love.
Funeral services are at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at the First United Methodist Church in Nebraska City with Rev. Dr. Charles Kathurima M. and Rev. Dr. Dan L. Flanagan officiating.
Honorary pallbearers are his siblings. Active pallbearers are Rev. Lyle Schoen, Rev. Chad Anglemyer, Rev. Craig Finnestad, Rev. Jack Sample, Rev. Marshall Johnson, and Rev. Sarah Malone. Burial is at Cowles Hill (Old Wyoming) Cemetery near Nebraska City.
Memorials are suggested to First United Methodist Church or the Association of Retired Ministers.
Visitation is 1-9 p.m. Wednesday at Marshall Funeral Chapel with the family greeting friends from 5-7 p.m.
Nebraska National Guard Funeral Honors Team will conduct military honors.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.marshallfuneral.com.
Marshall Funeral Chapel of Nebraska City is in charge of arrangements.