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Charles M. Fair

WAKEFIELD, RHODE ISLAND -- Charles M. Fair, 97, of Wakefield, Rhode Island, died Monday, July 28, 2014, at South County Hospital in Wakefield, of lymphoma.

He was a multitalented man with a varied career: editor, poet, banana importer, computer-company executive, script writer/narrator, historian and neurology researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1963, he went as a Guggenheim Fellow to U.C.L.A’s Brain Research Institute and, the following year, became a resident scientist in M.I.T’s Neurosciences Research Program, one of the few to have held an appointment there with no academic degree.

Mr. Fair published light verse in Punch and The New Yorker, book reviews in the Washington Post and The Providence Journal, and a regular column in the American Poetry Review. He authored three books on neuroscience, “The Physical Foundations of the Psyche” (Wesleyan University Press, 1963), “Memory & Central Nervous Organization” (Paragon House, 1988) and “Cortical Memory Functions” (Birkhauser, 1992); a number of papers on brain function; and three nontechnical books: “The Dying Self” (Wesleyan University Press, 1969), “From The Jaws of Victory” (Simon & Schuster, 1971), and “The New Nonsense” (Simon & Schuster, 1974). His books have been published in Britain and translated into Italian, German and Danish.

His creativity also included a lifelong love of jazz, and he played both piano and vibraphone. He loved sailing, the Red Sox, good conversation and he even tried his hand at farming. He also wrote and narrated the soundtrack for the original Salem Witch Museum, in Salem, Massachusetts.

The only child of Charles Maitland Fair and Gertrude (Bryan) Fair, he was born in New York City and raised in Manhattan and in Oyster Bay, New York. He attended the Buckley School, the Fay School, St. Paul’s School and Yale University.

Charles is survived by his wife of 34 years, Louise (Sadler) Kiessling M.D., FAAP; and two daughters, Ellen Bryan Fair of New York City and Shushan, New York, and Katherine Healy Fair, Ph.D., and her husband, Raphael Colb, of Fort Ann, New York, and Exeter, New Hampshire.

He was predeceased by his son, Charles M. (Chip) Fair, and his former wife, Kay (Ruddy) Fair.

A gathering in his honor will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, at South Kingstown Land Trust Barn at 17 Matunuck Beach Road, Wakefield, RI 02879. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island, South Team, 1085 N. Main St., Providence, RI 02904; South County Hospital, 100 Kenyon Ave., Wakefield, RI 02879; or the Rhode Island Food Bank, 200 Niantic Ave., Providence, RI 02907. For guestbook and condolences, visit

the life of: Charles M. Fair
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