MEEKER | His name is on the community center in Meeker, but who was this man, and why does he still matter to Meeker, half a century after his death?
Freeman Fairfield left behind an unusual—and admirable—legacy, one that continues to benefit the town of his birth.
Fairfield was born in Meeker on May 9, 1899, to White River Valley pioneers Ada Watson Fairfield and Edwin Freeman Fairfield. His father was a freighter between Meeker and Rifle. His mother passed away at a young age. He graduated from high school in 1917 and went to business school, then moved to California to begin work as a roustabout in the oil fields in 1921. Five years later he opened his own business, the Oil Tool Exchange, Inc., and grew it into a multi-million dollar corporation.
While some who move out of state and achieve great success might forget their small town beginnings, Fairfield never did. He returned to Meeker often, distributing some amazing gifts. Fairfield presented the town with its first ambulance, worked with the commissioners to establish Pioneers Hospital with a donation of $175,000, giving $75,000 to the St. James’ Episcopal Church in memory of his parents, and setting up a Christmas Trust Fund for patients of the Walbridge Wing. Upon his death on Aug. 8, 1967, he left $2 million dollars to the town of Meeker. The interest accrued from that trust was to be used exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary and educational purposes.
The Freeman E. Fairfield Meeker Charitable Trust, made up of the vicar of St. James Church, the president of the local bank, the editor of the newspaper, the president of the Pioneers Hospital board and the president of the RE-1 school board were to make up the trust committee, and determine how where the money should go. The trust committee had its first meeting in November 1969.
Since then, the Fairfield Trust has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to local nonprofit organizations, from churches, to school groups, to the hospital, to scholarships for local high school graduates.
Fairfield’s legacy sets a high standard to which we can all aspire.
By Herald Times Staff