Thomas Fairchild


Tom Fairchild PicDr. Thomas Newman Fairchild’s wonderful life ended on Saturday, July 30th at 7:30 p.m. Tom died at home with his wife Linda Britton-Fairchild, his son David Fairchild and his daughter Megan Pestka  present at his side.  His children had great love and admiration for their father and visited him as often as they could during his last years.

Tom was born to Lloyd Fairchild and Bernyce Rudolph-Kalblinger on November 21st, 1947 in Burley, Idaho.  He is survived by his children who include David Fairchild of Boise, ID,  Nicole VanderZiel of Wichita, KS, Joshua Fairchild of Dunellen, NJ, Brandi Fairchild (deceased), Megan Pestka of Moscow, Idaho and seven beautiful grandchildren (Talia, Ella, Joshua, Abby, Aiden, Jackson, Jace). Tom is also survived by his wife, Linda Britton-Fairchild of Latah County.

He received his doctoral degree in School Psychology from the University of Iowa.  He held many elected and appointed professional positions within Idaho and nationally.  He was a prolific researcher with numerous publications.   His professional career was spent at the University of Idaho where he was chairman of the school psychology program for nearly 35 years.  Early in his very productive career, he developed a national reputation when he co-wrote and edited the Mainstreaming Series, a series of books illustrated by his brother Dan Fairchild that were popular and influential with educators throughout the United States, helping them to better meet the needs of children with disabilities.

Tom was a person who cared deeply for people with disabilities and other life challenges, demonstrated through the way he cared for his clients in the practice of school psychology.  His colleagues knew him as a dedicated professional who advanced school psychology through his practice, the students he mentored, his research, and publications.  They knew him as someone whose hard work was balanced with a great capacity to celebrate life.  He was a man of good humor, creativity, sincere empathy for others, and extraordinary kindness.  Tom made friends, never adversaries.

Students remember him as being genuinely invested in them and their life goals, and for challenging them to be their best professional selves.  He was a mentor who shared his time care, and respect with them, and in return he received their mutual care and respect.  Students greatly valued his guidance and wisdom.  He was known for his professionalism, sincere commitment to school psychology, and an astounding ability to edit a manuscript.

Tom will also be remembered as an amazing cribbage player and an intricate storyteller. He was a man who enjoyed fishing, loved chocolate and peanut butter, and found happiness visiting life-long friends on his old stomping grounds in Nampa, ID.  Tom never missed an opportunity to play Nickel Knock with his children.

Tom is dearly loved by his family, and many friends, colleagues, and students.  He was truly a man who loved to be loved.  He loved his family with great passion, and made each of his friends and colleagues feel special and inspired. He will be missed more than words can express.

Services will be held on Thursday, August 25th at 11:00 a.m. at Short’s Funeral Home in Moscow, Idaho.  Those who wish can donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

2 Responses to Thomas Fairchild

  1. Ruth Wilkinson Cannon says:

    It’s really hard to sum up the impact Tom had on so many people, how he was always available to offer his support, or to quietly listen to others…to confirm their feelings and their value. He was, without a doubt, the best school psychologist, educator, and friend…..ever.
    When Tom came to Lapwai, yes that Tom, THE Dr. Thomas Fairchild, the chairman of the department who trained school psychologist students at the University of Idaho. Yep, that Tom would work for the Lapwai School District as school psychologist for many years, enriching all who came to know him. Tom established many long term relationships in Lapwai and made a difference with students, staff, and community members.
    Throughout the years we worked together, Tom always corrected me in private that he was “justTom” when I introduced him, not Doctor Tom Fairchild. He of course was a humble man. He was also a brilliant man, a natural teacher, and a truly remarkable friend.
    I, like many others will miss Tom.
    Linda, over the years Tom often spoke of your incredible support of him, and how much loved and appreciated you.

    Ruth Wilkinson Cannon

  2. Larry Rogien says:

    Tom Fairchild, professor, mentor, man of integrity, friend of everyone, leader in academia, family man, fellow accordion player. You will be missed, Dr. Tom Fairchild.

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