Ze Fairchild 1968-2006

Written by Joe Fairchild

ze_fairchild.jpgI have no clue how to carry on without
Ze’s wonderful charm in our lives. She was the very best of the
best — such a loving wife and mother. Our son Nick and I were so
lucky she was able to show us the love she brought to this world.
She was a true angel here on earth. Everything about her is
remembered in happy thoughts. My heart aches tremendously, but I
need to learn to be strong, as I know she would have been had it
been me.

Ze was a true inspiration to my life, as is her culture and
family. She was born in Laos, as part of the Hmong tribe. Her
father was fighting for the U.S. when the Vietnam War ended, so
they had to flee their county or face genocide. For more than two
months, she walked and lived with her parents and five siblings
along more than 100 miles of the Ho Chi Minh jungle trail to reach
Thailand. There they lived in a refugee camp for five or six years
before gaining U.S. asylum in 1981. Ze was such a creative person
because she grew up with nothing in the camp with which to play,
except sticks and dirt.

Her family settled in Long Beach. After high school, Ze took the
postal exam that landed her a job in Goleta. Her father’s hand had
been disabled by a landmine and Ze wanted to help her parents. She
was very brave — the first child to venture out on her own from
Long Beach. Ze felt so happy to be included in our culture.

Ze had no ego; she never thought she was beautiful until I told
her back in late 1992 when we started to date. We met in 1989 when
were both working for the Goleta Post Office, but did not connect
until I changed jobs and we crossed paths in a City College tennis
class. I eventually asked her to marry me, and was accepted by her
family after a few months of long talks with her parents. We were
married in June 1994 and Nick was born in October 1998. Ze was
incredibly happy with him and was the best mom anybody could ever
have. She was so selfless, doing everything for him; she breastfed
him for over two years and made sure he wanted for nothing, except
now to be held by her again. Ze would work nights in order to be
home with Nick during the day. She wanted one of us to be with him

At the post office, Ze was always bubbly and eager to help
others. The supervisor knew he could assign something above and
beyond; she’d always accept with a smile and say, “Thank you.” Ze
is the only girl I ever took to my parents’ place. She didn’t mind
putting on my dad’s old, dirty overalls and ear protectors to help
me do yard work, wack weeds, and trim trees; she would just

I have been taking care of Nick for two months now without Ze by
my side. He knows what happened, but doesn’t seem to be accepting
it well. We were together when we saw her body for the first time
since the tragedy. We talked to her and told her we loved her. At
the burial, Nick sat on my lap nice and quiet the whole time.

Ze’s real name was “Zeb,” which means “rock” in the Hmong
language. She was our rock and the foundation of our lives together
here on earth. She will be missed forever, but will live on through
Nick and me. I will follow in her footsteps and bring Nick up just
as she would have wished. I will think of her in everything we

If anything comes of this tragedy, please let it be for everyone
to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Never think ill of others. In
regards to race, creed, or color, there is none. We are all one
species: human. Let’s live together in harmony.

On January 30, Ze Fairchild was fatally shot by Jennifer
Sanmarcos at the Goleta Post Office.


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