On Wednesday, May 15, 2019, Bill Faircloth, husband, father, pilot, educator, grandfather and racer passed away at the age of 77 in Stamford Hospital.
William Bryan Faircloth, Jr., was born on December 27, 1941, in Columbus, OH, to Dr. William Bryan Faircloth and Margaret Warren Faircloth. He grew up in Zanesville, OH, and moved to Ridgefield, CT in the late 1960s. He was a commercial airline pilot and after retirement, became a special education instructional assistant. He married Lynelle Torno on September 11, 1965, in Westport, CT and had two daughters.
In Zanesville, Bill’s passion for motors, racing and flying was evident. His mother felt racing cars was dangerous, and he convinced her to let him race boats, and it’s obvious Peg didn’t realize what hydroplane racing was. He enjoyed making and flying model airplanes, working on cars and rebuilding all the things he took apart.
Bill graduated from Western Reserve Academy where he enjoyed soccer and wrestling and suffered through Latin, a language he ultimately appreciated and proudly stated the root of many a word in family discussions. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1964 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. As a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon he was a buggy chairman and the first to introduce a radical new design for Spring Carnival’s race. He was also awarded the Bennett Prize his senior year for creative engineering while at Carnegie Tech.
After working a year at Pratt & Whitney in CT, he attended American Flyers in OK to obtain his commercial pilot’s license. He was hired by Eastern Air Lines in 1966 and flew with them until 1990. He became an airline captain in 1980, and was known as “Captain Bill” from then on. He flew the Lockheed Electra, DC-8, L-1011 and 727. He also flew for Air Aruba and Sky Trek, where he was chosen to be Chief Pilot. Bill remembered every landing, every airport’s approach, and told stories of all his adventures and scares, with the safety of his crew and passengers always his priority.
After flying, on-call substitute teaching at New Canaan High School turned into a ‘new’ career and he was a special education instructional assistant for 15 years. He also tutored students in the Math Center and was committed to helping them learn and succeed, happily sharing his knowledge of math and science.
Bill loved restoring and racing vintage race cars, his favorites being the Lotus XI, Lola and F5000 he’d race around the eastern half of the country. He especially loved Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Pocono and Watkins Glen. He won the John Fitch Award at Lime Rock with one of his Corvairs, awarded to the car that was most authentically restored and had the fastest time. He still holds the Vintage record at the Duryea Hillclimb (PA), set in 1981 with the Lotus XI.
Bill also developed a love for sailing, he and his wife, nicknamed Tiger, raced and sailed a Flying Scot at Sprite Island Yacht Club in Long Island Sound. They won the Six-Mile Series in 1995, 1996 and 2000 and the Fleet #142 Championship in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1988 and 1998. At Sprite he repaired launches and outboard motors for over 25 years and often helped the boat boys with their math homework.
He and Tiger met in 1961 while at Carnegie Mellon, and though they initially bounced around some after marriage due to his flight career, they have been connected to Ridgefield since 1967. After building their house, where Bill often retold stories of crafting the raised panels or laying the patio bricks, he’d work on his cars in the garage or tend to his model airplanes in the basement. He enjoyed a good fire in the fireplace and sitting with one of the family dogs. His daughters fondly recall his active participation in their lives, from coaching soccer and being at the race track serving as his ‘pit crew,’ listening to and lugging their cellos, going to Elton John and Bruce Springsteen concerts, to watching the Jason Bourne movies for the 283rd time.
Bill is survived by his wife, Tiger, of nearly 54 years, daughters Gwynne Faircloth and Cameron (Louis) Kahi, granddaughter Grace and grandson Liam, nephew Craig Faircloth and niece Kimberly Felix, his four Alabama cousins Kay, Joy, Sherry and Diane, and goddaughters Kim and Elizabeth.
He was predeceased by his parents, and his older brother David, who passed away May 1.
He held a soft spot for the dogs the family had through the years, even enjoying a visit from one while in the hospital.
Though slowed down the last 10 years by what turned out to be a rare type of late onset muscular dystrophy, Bill was able to do and enjoy many things, he made connections with people of all ages, valued his friendships, and led a full life. He was quiet, believed in getting the job done and doing the right thing.
Per his wishes, there will be no service or calling hours; the family will hold a gathering in the summer at Sprite.
The family is setting up a fund to benefit students pursuing two of Bill’s passions – learning and flying. One will be a scholarship in his name for New Canaan High School special education students and the other to assist area students pursuing their pilot’s license in purchasing their flight manuals.
To contribute, learn more, or share your memories and stories of Bill, please visit CaptainBillFaircloth.com.