Capt. John W. Fairbanks ’52

On Sunday October 30, 2022, Capt. John Fairbanks, USN (ret.) peacefully passed away at the age of 90 while surrounded by family.

John was born on November 21, 1931, and was raised in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. He graduated from Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) in 1952 and volunteered for service in the United States Navy, along with 100% of his graduating class, during the Korean War.  After three years of service, John attended Stanford University and obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering. On December 8, 1956, John married Marjorie Bornhausen in La Jolla, CA. They raised four children in Rockville, MD. Carolyn (Steven) Stokes of Olney, John Jr. of Rockville, Steven (Mary) of Potomac, and David of Germantown.

John’s life was one of service to his country and his family. John served for 32 years in the Navy and the Naval Reserves and retired with the rank of Captain. He worked as an engineer for the NASA-Goddard Spaceflight Center and the Department of Energy for 52 years before finally retiring at the age of 82. John was awarded the Apollo Achievement Award from the NASA-Goddard Spaceflight Center and authored or co-authored 78 technical papers.

Sports played a prominent role in John’s life. He is a member of the MMA Athletic Hall of Fame where he starred in football and baseball. John was the prototypical fullback/middle linebacker in the days of two-way players, leather helmets and no facemasks. John spent years coaching his children in various sports. And he spent many more years on the sidelines, camera in tow, photographing his grandchildren on athletic fields across the DC area. It was easy to spot the eighty something year old photographer, perched on the edge of a lacrosse field, fearless of the lacrosse balls whizzing past him while he tried to capture the perfect shot.

While John had a tremendous passion for travel, he remained a Mainer through and through. He relished family vacations to the Maine beaches and considered the chilly ocean water refreshing. He could turn on that thick Maine accent at the drop of a hat and was more than happy to tell you, “You can’t get there from here.” And he was a dedicated supporter of his alma mater, MMA, where he was the recipient of the 1975 Outstanding Alumni Award and is a proud member of their Wall of Honor.

John was preceded in death by his wife, Marge, in 2004, and his brother James in 2016. He is survived by his four children and six grandchildren.