Richard M. Fairbanks III ’69 was a former U.S. ambassador in charge of facilitating peace discussions between Israel and Egypt in the early 1980s. He passed away on February 6, 2013, at the age of 71.
Fairbanks, who was born in Indianapolis in 1941, was the great-grandson of former U.S. Vice President Charles Fairbanks. He graduated from Yale University in 1962 and served four years in the U.S. Navy before enrolling at Columbia Law School. He earned his J.D. in 1969.
Fairbanks spent much of his early career working for the United States government. From 1971 to 1972, he served as a special assistant to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Ruckelshaus, and as a staff assistant for the White House Domestic Council. He became a founding partner of Beveridge, Fairbanks & Diamond in 1974, but returned to public service when President-elect Ronald Reagan named him head of his transition office’s natural resources, energy, and environment division in 1980.
After Reagan entered office, Fairbanks began his first job in the U.S. State Department as assistant secretary for congressional relations. Just more than a year later, he was called upon to lead peace negotiations between Egypt and Israel as a special adviser to Secretary of State Alexander Haig. Reagan named Fairbanks an ambassador at large in 1984.
Fairbanks returned to private practice in 1985, and continued to serve on various federal committees during the next several years. In 1992, he began work with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a public policy research institution in Washington, D.C. He would serve as the organization’s president, CEO, counselor, and trustee throughout the next decade. Fairbanks founded Layalina Productions in 2002. The company is a nonprofit organization focused on producing television and media programming for distribution in the Middle East.
Fairbanks is survived by his wife, Ann; his two sons, Woods and Jonathan; and his six grandchildren.