John Fabian
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John Ogden Fabian was born in New York City to Edward L. Fabian and Jane Ogden Fabian on November 21 1945 and Passed peacefully at his home in Texas on January 17 2010. A very special loving soul, his presence will be missed by many.

John always seemed to know just the way to ask the question or phrase his comments so as to spark intrigue and resolution in his conversations with others. John loved nature in all its splendor (especially tropical fish, birds, and wildcats). He enjoyed solving complex mysteries and puzzles. His optimism was contagious and his relaxed, welcoming attitude was refreshing.

John's kindness and gift of teaching with wit and humor allowed many people clear access to his knowledge and his ideas. He delighted in learning new things and never stopped looking for ways to improve his products or make life easier or more pleasant for someone else or innovating until the day he passed.

John grew up loving music and entertainment; he eagerly soaked up all the introductions and contacts he had while working at his family's Fabian Theaters in NYC. When he was a young adult, John began seeking and found several other great loves of his life: pedal steel guitar educator Jeff Newman and personal transformation coach Werner Erhard were among John's most important mentors, while pedal steel guitar great, Buddy Emmons, was one of his strongest John's inspirations.

He also loved going places, by car, train, air -- and visited 49 of the 50 states in the USA, some of them several times. He loved exploring new countries such as Singapore (his very favorite), Italy (his next favorite), England, France, Ireland, and South Korea. He called his October 2009 visit, to Italy "the vacation of a lifetime".

When John discovered in his 30's what a difference he (one human being) could make on this planet, he took it literally and used nearly every opportunity he saw to do so. While using his innate good humor and wit to build and encourage strong, innovative teamwork among the various volunteers and employees he led and coached, John was highly respected by all those for whom he was responsible, as well by as his peers and superiors, alike.

As Founder and President of the largest pedal steel guitar company in recent history, World Class Steels, Inc. dba Carter Steel Guitars, John endeavored to bring and maintain the highest level of integrity, honesty, education, and support in the industry. He was the designer and creator of many of that Company's innovations, including various educational seminars and presentations (both live and virtual online), the selling of very high-priced items (pedal steel guitars) via the Internet direct to the consumer (sight unseen) when virtually no one was yet doing so (1996), early adopter of interactive internet displays such as 3-D and configurators to more explicitly give his customers a real feel for the product, interactive trade-show booths for a hands-on intro (1992), design of the Carter-Starter beginner pedal steel guitar which changed the lives of many wanna-be pedal steel guitarists so that they could easily afford to learn to play (2000), design of the Magnum pedal steel guitar, and even co-designing several aspects of the Carter pro model with his partner Bud Carter. In the last few years of his life, John worked very hard to have Bud Carter inducted into the International Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, which happened in September of 2009.

Possibly John's most powerful contribution to the steel guitar world came from his Marketing and Product Management skills, which he brought from his years of working in the disk drive industry and extensive volunteer work supporting people who desired to reach their full potential. John's use of his business skills, talented networking ability, distribution channels (existing and those he created), promotion and value engineering concepts, and his constant empowerment of others (resulting in his everyday interactions often eliciting from people the highest expression of their abilities and aspirations in the manner most natural to them) were unique among pedal steel guitar builders. This enabled the masses to have access to a quality instrument at an attractive price. This is an important part of his legacy.

John adored using technology of all kinds to better his life and that of those around him -- he knew it was meant to enrich us all and sought to discover all the ways he could find that would do so. Inspirations were a common occurrence for John: he found them everywhere and frequently. He would wake up daily happy, joking, inspired (such arising one morning with the idea for this video which made pedal steel guitar far more understandable, and therefore accessible, to many musicians: and "ready to rock and roll".

And, John truly had good manners, class, great taste, attention to detail and style. He so appreciated intricate, artful expression whether in tasty foods, gorgeous inlay, finely finished wood pieces, dancing, singing, musical performances, and nature itself. He even sought to learn new skills so as to present his vision for web design, wood & inlay work, authorship, engineering designs, and future plans in such a pleasing, clear, accurate, and inspirational manner, time after time.

Service to others was of utmost importance to John, even throughout his 8-year heroic, valiant, and periodically-very-successful battle with Stage 3 and then Stage 4 Metastatic Colon Cancer. The one piece of advice he would have for anyone age 50 or under: "Have a colonoscopy at 50 years of age (or even earlier if you suspect you need it earlier)."

Undergraduate and Engineering Degree earned from Missouri Institute of Technology; MBA from Calif State University, San Jose.

Survived by his wife Ann, mother Jane, sister Barbara, cousins, nieces, and nephew. Preceded in death by father and grandparents Harry & Bertha Ogden and Sy & Anna Fabian. John was cremated according to his wishes.

Memorial Service/Celebration of John's Life will be held Sat, Mar 13 2010, 9:30 am, Sheraton Grand Hotel DFW, Galleria 2 Room. [Sheraton Grand DFW Address: 4440 West John Carpenter Freeway Irving, TX 75063]

Condolences may be sent to or to The Family of John Fabian, PO Box 851324 Mesquite TX 75185-1324 USA. Donations may be sent to ,, or Scripps Institute of Oceanography .

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Dallas Morning News on Feb. 28, 2010.
Memories & Condolences
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28 entries
July 12, 2017
Yes, John was a smart guy. I do think of him when I rememebr good times. His Sister Barbara passed away also as I believe and not too long after..... so young both of sad
kip kuba
July 10, 2017
John is still missed today in the Steel Guitar World ! He was truly a Master at working the customers and did the best job of seeing that all of the Carter Fans were noticed and he always wanted feedback from the players. With Bud by his side those two super brains never stopped thinking about what they could do to make a better guitar and take care of his customers.

There is hardly a day goes by that I don't think about those guys and what the did for the industry. We were so Blessed to have these two guys that the Good Load loaned them to the Steel Guitar world to learn and have the very best instruments to play. There will never be another pair like them!
November 11, 2011
I'm soo sorry for your loss.
Dan Young
Daniel Young
October 14, 2011
Hi Ann,

I’ve just read of John’s passing and wanted to extend my condolences. I had Bud build my guitar back in 1999 and John was so helpful in making sure I had all the information I needed to get a great guitar. I very much liked the fact that he listened to what I wanted and gave superb advice when a lot of folks might just as easily tried to just sell me the most expensive thing they could. Not that this guitar wasn’t expensive, but it was and is worth every penny. I also purchased a Peavey amp that I would have never considered but John recommended and I’ve nothing but happy with. I would have spent a lot more on an amp than I did since I had always liked Fenders but this Peavey was quite the bargain and it’s still working flawlessly, as is my steel. I sure hope somebody with the right attitude will someday revive the Carter brand. They are the best pedal steels made and they need to continue. John will be sorely missed. Good luck and God Bless.
Jay Ferris
June 21, 2011
I just read of John's passing today (6/21/11). What a loss. Though I never met the man, I will treasure my Carter S-10 even more now. Condolences to Ann & family.

Pastor Ron Stephens, Toutle, WA
Ron Stephens
May 23, 2011
It was John's video introduction to the PSG for guitar players that made me decide to buy one from Carter....thanks John.

Davie (Glasgow Scotland)
May 3, 2011
What a great guy. John and I played together in a band, Coyote, while he was in school. He was tough and generous. He was a great friend to me. The trip to the Nation Steel Guitar convention in 1980 with John was is one of my fondest memories. John cried when Buddy Emmons played Danny Boy. Love you John.
Mike Daugherty
January 25, 2011
Margaret and I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to you for your loss last year and we will forever retain the fondest of memories of the three of Carter Steel Guitars - the instruments you all made, the great service I received from you when I bought my PSG, and the time and friendliness I and we received upon visiting Mesquite.

It is very sad that in the last couple of decades the world has been slowly losing the pioneer playing, manufacturing, teaching, and promoters of the pedal steel guitar. While they are now gone from us we we remember them for what they have done for us and given us. John is one of those people in my mind.

We hope life is getting easier for you now and hope it becomes more so as time goes by.

Take care, my friend

Allen Castleton, New Zealand
January 17, 2011
Met John at S.T.Louis convention about 5 yrs ago He was a gentlemans gentleman Was new to pedal steel and he sit down and showed me many good things and gave good advice. Missed him this yr. at st louis God bless your family. Jim Rogers
JIM Rogers
January 15, 2011
I had the distinct honor of meeting and collaborating with John on the marine themed Carter #2000 showpiece. John was an enthusiastic and wonderful soul who was always there to discuss ideas and share in the process. Over the just one year I knew John we had become friends, co-designers, and kindred spirits in an instrument which will hopefully forever memorialize John and his vision. His passing is a very emotional time for both his loving family and those in the world of instrument design and production alike. John, you are loved and missed, and I wish your family peace, strength and love at all times.
Craig Lavin
December 24, 2010
One other memory,at John's birthday party.he played pedal guitar with the band and he was great!!! I remember his big smile!!!!
kip kuba
December 23, 2010
So sorry to hear this. I met John and Ann at john's 40th birthday.I never forgot them.
kip kuba
July 28, 2010
I am very sorry to learn that John Fabian has died so soon. I realize that I am very late with this but still, I want to give my condolences to Ann and his other dear ones. Also many thanks to John and others for keeping onlinesteelers on the Internet for so many years and helping to build the steel guitar Internet community like it is now.

All my best,
Ad Kersten
May 16, 2010
I was so sorry to hear about your Mr. Fabian's passing. He certainly made a HUGE mark on the pedal steel community and brought a lot of people joy with the wonderful steels he put on the market. I never even had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Fabian. But, he still managed to affect my life in a major way.

If it weren't for his ambition to make an affordable and quality beginner steel such as the Starter, I (and I know there are many folks in addition to myself) probably would've never been able to afford getting a PSG and wouldn't be playing. And, if it weren't for pedal steel I don't know how I would be making my living as I recently lost my job and have been getting by playing live music. Besides making money, I couldn't begin to tell you how much joy this instrument has brought to my life and I owe that to Mr. Fabian. So, since I never had the chance to tell Mr. Fabien, I'd like to give my profuse thanks to his family.
Josh Sharpe
March 25, 2010
Ann, I was so saddened to hear of the loss of John. Even though I only saw him once a year, I saw how he had touched so many lives. He will be truly missed at the Steel Guitar Convention and you will be missed also. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Love ya!
Kelly Tuttle
March 25, 2010
I feel terribly diminished by this sad loss because, even though I only spoke to John by telephone a few times, he treated me as a valued friend. As a result I became one very proud Carter steel-guitar owner, albeit one the other side of a vast ocean. Distance does nothing to alleviate the sense of loss. To Ann, his and her respective families and many, many friends both in the USA and elsewhere, I send my sincerest condolences.
Ned McIntosh
March 13, 2010
Ann, John was a jewel of a guy. Thank you for opening your heart to share his life in such a loving way. We feel blessed to have known him. You and your family continue to be in our prayers. May the memories you shared bring comfort and peace.
Hetty and Frieda Harold
March 10, 2010
I knew John as a man of rock solid integrity who valued his wife Ann more than anything else.
Stephen Marsh
March 8, 2010
Dear, wonderful friend Ann,

The "chance" meeting you and John 8 years ago was one of my most blessed days! And as you and I have shared recently, the connection we felt was as if we'd known each other forever! After reading your very eloquent description of your beloved John, I feel I was cheated...I wish I had had more time with you both to have shared in your incredible life. But, John has given us, you and I, a beautiful gift of allowing our friendship to blossom again.
I love you dear friend,
Beth Feldman
March 7, 2010
Ann, once again my deepest sympathies to you and your family. Having just read up on John, it's lovely to know that he loved Singapore as one of his favourite countries he visited. That was where I was born before coming to U.K. I'm sure you will have many happy memories being there with him. God Bless, Micky Byrne
Micky Byrne
March 5, 2010
Prayers of comfort for your loss. Beautiful words that commemorate your beloved....Dean and Tracey Markham and family
March 4, 2010
My deepest sympathies for you and your family. John was a great man, and a huge asset to the pedal steel guitar community! No one will ever be able to replace what he has done for us all. He influenced many more than anyone will ever really know, and will truly be missed by many.
Chuck Snider
March 3, 2010
My dearest Ann:
I am so sorry John 's courageous battle with cancer has ended.. and that you have lost your soul mate, lover, husband, and best friend. I wish i could have known him!!
i am glad i can be with you next week .
In sympathy and love,
Ellen and (Amy, Kelly, and Larry)
Ellen Edwards
March 2, 2010
Wishing you blessings,peace and happiness now and through-out the future. I'm know that that's what John wants too. You definately deserve every good thing as that's what you always tried to ensure for my brother, John. Thank you for everything
Barbara Fabian
March 1, 2010
Ann, God Bless you. Thank you for loving and taking care of "your" John.
The obituary you wrote about your beloved husband was perfect, beautiful and so eloquent, You captured John !
To my dear cousin John, your memory lives were very loved. Your "physical self" shall be greatly missed here in this life.
Gail Orr
March 1, 2010
My deepest condolences, Ann. Very sorry, and very sad.
Chip Fossa
March 1, 2010
John's contributions to the steel guitar community will live on but we will greatly miss his friendship, humor, and vibrant personality.

Our condolences to Ann and the Fabian family.
Jeff Agnew
February 28, 2010
I offer my condolences on the loss of your husband and pray that the "peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts."

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