National Institute on Aging

In Memoriam: Jean Fairfax, 1920-2019

Jean Fairfax, former dean of women at two historically Black institutions, passed away on February 12, 2019. She was 98 years old.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Fairfax served as dean of women at Kentucky State College (now University) in Frankfort and at the Tuskegee Institute (now University) in Alabama. After World War II, she went to Austria to serve as a postwar relief worker with the American Friends Service Committee, and served as the organization’s director of college programs in New England and director of Southern Civil Rights.

Throughout her career, Fairfax was involved with multiple professional and community organizations including the World Council of Churches. She was a founder of the Black Women’s Community Development Foundation, a precursor to the National Black Child Development Institute. Additionally, she helped formed endowments worth more than $1 million and channeled money into social justice programs and scholarships for poor students.

Fairfax was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan. She held a master’s degree in comparative religions from a joint degree program at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University.


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