Earl Fairbanks1918 - 2014
Dr. Earl Fairbanks III DVM, 95, of Hawks
passed away peacefully at home
surrounded by his family on September 14, 2014.
“Doc” was born to Georgia (Sekanina) and Earl Fairbanks II
on November 2, 1918 in the family’s farmhouse in Lake County,
His birth was attended by his paternal grandfather, Earl Fairbanks I, a
country doctor and two-term state senator ~ a man held in high esteem by
By his own pen, Earl wrote that he was “just an old country boy who lived,
hunted and fished in northern Lower Michigan” for most of his 95 years.
Doc saw his first deer when he was 8-years-old from the window seat of
his family’s old Model-T. He noted this occurred at a time in Michigan’s
history when deer were just starting to populate the area, and it is
obvious that from that first glance, he was hooked.
Earl attended grade school in Luther, then moved to live with his
grandfather in order to attend Dickson High School in Brethren, Michigan,
where he graduated in May of 1936. He moved on to Michigan State
College of Agriculture and Applied Science, eventually earning his
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in June of 1942, Earl stated he enrolled in
Michigan State after a rather successful crop of pickles netted him $500.
Tuition for Michigan State at that time was $120 a term. He joked that
the college only accepted 62 students each year into the veterinary
program, and since only 63 applied he was accepted.
It was at Michigan State that Earl met his sweetheart Shirley Jean Grey.
The two were married on October 17, 1942 and moved north when Earl
was 23-years-young. The couple took residence in Petersville for a short
time before moving into Rogers City. In 1951, they bought the Fairbanks
home in the heart of Hawks. He worked for the Department of Agriculture
and also had a private practice as the only veterinarian in northeast
Michigan, making him very well known among farmers in nearly five
counties, He continued his private practice many years after his
retirement from the Department of Agriculture,
In his early days, Doc was appointed to the County Meat Board, rationing
meat to families who had the appropriate stamps required. Earl noted that
this board “only had one official meeting” and was short-lived because
“local farmers were selling meat to people and always would.” Earl also
was appointed as an Air Raid Warden, working from atop spotting stations
located in Rogers City, looking out for bombers who might threaten the
Calcite Limestone Quarry. Doc joked that it was quickly disbanded after
a routine practice drill went off without anyone hearing a thing. Over the
years, Earl was also a member of the Presque Isle County Sportsman’s
Club, the local Spitzer Club, and the Buck-n-Fur Hunting Club.
Doc’s experience as a federal employee with the Department of Agriculture
exposed him to the long-debated issue of Bovine T.B. Earl became very
vocal in the discussions, and was often called the Bard of Bismarck for
his numerous writings, reports and poems on the issue. He was able to go
in peace from this world knowing that federal officials declared
Presque Isle County free of Bovine TB. after a 19-year battle,
Doc and Shirley Fairbanks were married for nearly 67 years, leaving a
legacy that includes 11 children — 10 boys and one girl, Earl took to
teaching his children and grandchildren the genius behind his farming,
hunting and fishing. Many “rites of passage” were handed down through
the years — none of which will be forgotten.
Earl is survived by:
his children: Robert (Jacquelyn) of Rogers City;
Michael (Katie) of Hawks; John of Rogers City;
Mark of Rogers City; Charles (Marianne) of Rogers City;
Randy (Louise) of Hubbard Lake;
Jack (Daphne) of Fennville; Joseph (Lisa) of Rogers City;
Russell (Mary) of Rogers City; David (Margot) of Gladstone;
and Kathy (Mike) O’Brien of Traverse City.
He is also survived by his youngest sibling, Mary Ann Coyle of Canton
He leaves 32 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren, many nieces and
nephews, and his forever faithful companion, Black Dog.
He was preceded in death by:
his wife Shirley in 2009, a granddaughter Kelly Sue Fairbanks in 1978,
and his grandson Douglas Earl Fairbanks in 2001.
Visitation will be Friday, September 19 at Beck Funeral Home from
2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The funeral will take place at Beck Funeral Home
on Saturday, September 20 at 11 a.m. with a luncheon to follow at
Peace Lutheran Church.
Memorials can be made to Hospice of Sunrise Shore or a charity of choice.Send Condolences Back to Obituaries