William J. Fairgrieve, a long-time Lodi resident and English teacher at Lodi High School died recently of natural causes. He was 88.
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Bill, as he preferred to be known, was born in Fraiser, Michigan to John and Margaret Fairgrieve, first generation immigrants from Scotland. Early in his childhood the family moved to City Island, a small island at the west end of Long Island Sound which is also part of the Bronx Borough of New York City. Bill graduated from high school in 1943 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the midst of the Second World War.
After graduating from boot camp he was selected for officer training and attended Princeton University. After just over two years he was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy and completed additional training. He was then assigned to a light cruiser based in Florida, the USS Montpelier. He reported aboard just as the war in Europe was ending. He completed one Atlantic cruise on the Montpelier before being reassigned to complete his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania, which he did in 1948.
Bill was then assigned to a Navy destroyer squadron based in San Diego, California. He subsequently deployed to the Western Pacific a number of times and was involved in combat operations off the coast of Korea during the Korean War. During one of his returns to port in San Diego he met an elementary school teacher, Norma Virginia Prince. She would later become his wife.
At the end of his enlistment Bill resigned his active duty commission and entered graduate school at Columbia University. He was awarded a master's degree in English literature in 1954. Bill returned to California and he and Norma began dating again. They were married on June 17, 1955 in Menlo Park, California. The couple then moved to Lodi to accept teaching jobs, Norma at an elementary school in town and Bill at Lodi High School. Soon thereafter they began a family and eventually had two sons, John and Scott, and a daughter, Susan.
Bill taught English and English literature at Lodi High School for thirty-eight years and served as chair of the English Department for much of that time. Bill was well known for certain signature traits, such as his preference for bow ties, his daily pun on the chalkboard, his humanity and his concern for his students. After retiring from teaching at Lodi High School, Bill continued to teach English language and literature at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton for a number of years.
In retirement Bill continued to pursue his interest in English literature, current events, and travelled widely with Norma. Bill is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Norma; his sons John and Scott, his daughter Susan, and a number of grandchildren.
The family will be hosting a remembrance ceremony at Heritage Oak Winery at 10112 E Woodbridge Road in Acampo on Friday, May 30th, 2014 between 5 and 6:30PM. Please join the family in raising a glass or sharing a story in memory of this lovely man.
Published in Lodi News-Sentinel from Apr. 25 to May 2, 2014