Barbara Fairbanks, 1935-2005

Life-long Skagway resident Barbara Fairbanks died December 19, 2005 in a Forks, Washington nursing home after a long affliction with Alzheimer’s Disease.
A memorial service will be held this Saturday, January 14, at 1 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church.
For most of her adult life, until the disease took her away from Skagway, Barbara was in almost daily contact with everyone in the community. She was always around the checkout counters at the family’s Fairway Market, always willing to help customers until she could no longer work.
Barbara was born on March 28, 1935 at the old White Pass Hospital in Skagway. She was the youngest child of William and Gertrude Beitinger.
She was a bit of a tom boy growing up. She wore corduroy pants so often that everyone was shocked when she wore a dress to school one day, said her husband Ed.
She also had a mischievous streak and liked to “run with the Sullivans.” She’d tell her boys about taking all the keys out of the Army Jeeps in town during World War II, and how she kept money in her pockets by turning in Coke bottles to Harry Ask – repeatedly. A day after turning in a case of empty bottles for the 3-cents deposit, she’d grab the same bottles from Ask’s alley and sell them back to him. “He’d pay me three or four times for the same bottle,” she would say.
Of course, Barbara grew up, and graduated from Skagway High in 1954. Ed, who was four years older, had met her in school and they had gone to dances and the movies together. “She said she chased me, I didn’t chase her,” Ed said.
Ed graduated from college the same year Barbara graduated from high school, but he went off to work all over the Northwest as an engineer for a construction company. They would get together when he came back to Skagway and were married on December 22, 1959. Even though Ed still worked out of Seattle until 1964, Barbara preferred to stay home in Skagway and worked for her brother in-law Bill Feero’s tourist businesses, and the WP&YR in the offices and commissary.
After Ed’s father, who started the Fairway Market, passed away in 1960, Ed and his brother Leslie took over the business, and Barbara worked there too. Her pleasant smile greeted customers, and she helped many with their groceries – at all hours.
“She was always willing to go to the store for people after hours or holidays,” said her husband of more thn 40 years. “She never turned anyone away. She always said, ‘If you need anything, call me. I’ve got the biggest pantry in town.’”
For fun, she loved to bowl at the Elks and go to tournaments with other women bowlers. She maintained a 175-180 per game average. She also was active in the Emblem Club. Her “B Fair” license plate told you who she was and how to live.
Barbara was afflicted with Alzheimer’s in the 1990s but was able to continue to work at the store until 1998. In 1999 she was moved to a Forks, Washington nursing facility, near her son Brian’s home.
Barbara is survived by her husband Ed; sons Brian of Forks, and Tim and Rod of Skagway; sister Beverly Feero of Skagway, and brother Jim Beitinger of Hawaii; grandsons Devin and Kyle of Skagway, and granddaughter Whitney of Forks.
She was preceded in death by brothers Donald and Gordon.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association in several ways: clicking on the donations link at; calling the nationwide calling center at 1-800-272-3900; or by sending a check to Alzheimer’s Association National Office, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601. – JB, compiled with family