Dr. Robert Sargent Fay

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Dr. Robert Sargent Fay-beloved teacher, artist, father, and grandfather-died on May 12, 2013 at home in Hancock, NH, at the age of 78. Robert had been active and vital right up to the end, and his death came without warning, after a brief illness.

Robert Fay became the first professor emeritus of Landmark College in Putney, VT, a community where he was a teacher, tutor, and photographer. He was associated with the college for more than a decade, teaching in the English department.

His longest tenure was at the Contoocook Valley Regional High School in Peterborough, NH, where he taught English for 25 years, serving as chairman of the department during the 1970's. He was an assistant professor in Education at Boston University during the 1960's, and before that he taught at the Brown & Nichols School in Cambridge, MA and at the Lexington (MA) High School.

In over five decades in education, Dr. Fay taught and mentored thousands of students, and was known for his patience and ability to uncover hidden talent in students with different learning styles. He used his passion for photography and art as a means of stimulating creativity and expression from young writers.

Dr. Fay was an accomplished photographer whose work is in the permanent collection of the Currier Art Museum in Manchester, NH and was exhibited at the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, NH, at the Fitchburg Art Museum, and at the Brattleboro Museum of Art, among others. He was a consulting photographer on the PBS documentary of the life of Mark Twain, directed by Ken Burns and produced by Florentine Films. Other photographic projects have related to history and the arts, including subjects such as Emily Dickinson, the Lewis and Clark Exhibition, and the life and writings of Henry David Thoreau.

A favorite photographic subject has been artists at work, including at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH and at Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in Sullivan, NH. He also photographed actors narrating Ken Burns' documentaries, including the actors Hal Holbrook and Blythe Danner.

Nature photography was a longstanding interest. He was the author of a book, Ocian in View! O! The Joy. A Collection of Photographs of the American West and he produced a slide show entitled Speak to the Earth, dedicated to the beauty of the Monadnock Region. In recent years he exhibited photographs on the subject of Walden Pond in Concord, MA.

As an alumnus, he was present for, and photographed the visit of, President John F. Kennedy to Amherst College in 1963 for the dedication of the college's new Robert Frost Library, Kennedy's last major speech before his assassination. When Dr. Fay died, he was working on an exhibition of those photographs to be displayed at the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's speech at Amherst later this year.

He graduated with a BA from Amherst College in 1956 and received his Doctorate in Education from Harvard in 1968.

Dr. Fay was born on May 26, 1934 in St. Louis, MO to the Reverend Robert Wolcott Fay and the former Helen Mary Sargent. His sister was the late Susan Fay Bash. In 1964 he married Grace Ann Morse and their three children survive him, William Bradford Fay of Skillman, NJ, Elizabeth Fay Russell of Wakefield, MA, and Helen "Joy" Sargent Fay of Melrose, MA. He is also survived by his son-in-law Derek Russell and five grandchildren: Brendan and Allison Fay; and Gillian, Andrew, and Sean Russell.

A memorial celebration will be held at 1pm on May 26, his 79th birthday, at the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church at 25 Main St. in Peterborough, NH.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Landmark College, Office of Institutional Advancement, c/o the Robert S. Fay Scholarship Fund, 1 River Rd., Putney, VT 05346.

Jellison Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Please visit www.jellisonfuneralhome.com to leave a condolence.
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Peterborough, NH 03458
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Published in The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript on May 21, 2013