Ronald Kenneth Fairbanks
Ronald Kenneth Fairbanks died unexpectedly on April 30, 2016 after a left leg blood clot led to a sudden cardiac arrest at Santa Barbara harbor in the late afternoon while he was cleaning the deck of his beloved boat the Miss Devin.
Ron was born June 9, 1944 in Lompoc, CA. His father and mother were farmer-ranchers in Lompoc valley. His dad, Kenneth Clyde Fairbanks, came from long time connections to the valley and Ventura County. His mom, Mary Emily Dettamanti Fairbanks, came from northern Italian immigrants who settled in the valley towards the end of WWI.
Ron is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Bonnie Alice (Hurlbut) Fairbanks, and their children, Dean Howard Kenneth Fairbanks and wife Portia Ceruti of Chico, CA and Devin Catherine Fairbanks and husband Tom McFaul of Santa Barbara, CA. He is survived by his sister Lorraine Catherine Ploch of Lompoc. His grand children are Sibaya Libby Fairbanks and Sabin Zane Fairbanks also of Chico, CA. His nieces and nephews are Shelley (“Phyllis”) Kay Ploch, Stacey Marie (Ploch) Cleckley, Steven Loren Ploch, Jeremy Hurlbut, Paige Hurlbut, and Mason Hurlbut.
Ron in his youth was involved in 4H, working on the family farm and as a box boy at Jordano’s Market, surfing at Refugio beach, hunting with his friends and Uncle Henry Dettamanti, and camping with family. In 1961 he met his future wife Bonnie at the local A&W Root beer, by introduction from his friend Les Schuyler. After graduation in 1962 from Lompoc High School instead of going to CalPoly San Luis Obispo he enlisted in the Navy and served in the Seabees learning the construction trade and especially plumbing/heating-cooling mechanical. He served in the early days of the Vietnam era being placed in San Diego, Port Hueneme, Midway Island and Honolulu, Hawaii until being discharged in 1966. It was at Midway Island in 1963 where he learned to scuba dive, which became a lifelong hobby. He married Bonnie on August 22, 1965 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Lompoc and they lived together in Hawaii until the end of 1966. Their first son Dean was born in 1969 and daughter Devin in 1970.
They returned and settled in Lompoc where Ron continued to work and develop his construction and plumbing mechanical skills by working first for the Lompoc School District and Lompoc Hospital. During this time he completed two AA/AS degrees in small business administration and political science from Allan Hancock Junior College. In 1972 he received his California State Contractors License. In 1970 he went to work for Walt Stanley Plumbing and Heating where he became head foreman, eventually purchasing the business in 1975 and creating Ron’s Plumbing and Heating (and later Solar in 1981). His business consisted of parts sales, repair service, remodeling and new construction. Many in the community will remember the red trucks with the monkey painted on the side holding a drain snake with the motto “Don’t Monkey Around, Call Us!” Genially known as “Running Ron” he sold the business in 1995, but continued plumbing and contracting in a private capacity. In 1996 he started Ocean Sports, a business catering to scuba diving and fishing. He was a PADI diving instructor for 15 years serving over 450 students. He sold the business in 2012.
Ron loved building and mechanical work. He built the family home in 1970, two more homes on the same block, as well as two commercial buildings where his businesses resided. His love affair with the ocean led to two of his biggest building projects involving boat building. In 1985 he started building the Devin K, a commercial fishing boat, which was launched at Santa Barbara Harbor in 1989. The boat was lost in 1991 to be replaced by the Miss Devin a New England style lobster boat. In 1996 he earned his US Coast Guards Captains license, and became affectionately known as Captain Ron. He ran a successful charter boat business on the Miss Devin from 1996 until his passing. He loved serving people, conducting trips for divers, fishermen, surfers, kayakers, whale watchers, sunset cruises, research expeditions, oil companies, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and documentary film makers like the BBC all around the Santa Barbara Channel and Islands. Most especially he loved taking out his family, friends and his grandson who delighted in his special fishing trips.
Ron and Bonnie loved to travel, and remain current with world news. With family and friends, he traveled the US, Canada, UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Africa, Swaziland, Costa Rica, Tahiti, Mexico, Jamaica, Barbados and Australia. They also made many trips to spend time with their grandkids who are fortunate to have so many special memories.
Ron was a member of the Lompoc Dive Club, Lompoc Valley Club (on the Board of Directors for over 25 years), Lompoc Masonic Lodge, Shrine Club, Elks Lodge, Grange, and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. A member of St. Mary’s since 1965, he served on the vestry and helped as a consultant with the construction of its new location. He served on the Lompoc Cemetery Board, having been its chair for the last 22 years. He was active in organizations with his children, especially Boy Scouts where he went on countless backpack trips in the Santa Barbara backcountry and Sierra Nevada. He had long time friendships who met regularly for early morning coffee at the American Host, Friday lunch at Tom’s burgers, and with the River Bottom Boys. From his youth he maintained a lifelong connection to the local farming and ranching families. He was a friend to many and loved his community. He supported many people and often would help without asking, always willing to give. He never gave up on people, always finding the good in everyone.
Ron was a beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather, family member, friend, community member, contractor, businessman, boat captain, and mentor. Ron’s family is thankful for the retired fireman who helped and the emergency room doctor and staff at Cottage Hospital. We especially thank the outpouring of support from Ron’s family, friends and former students, their messages of love and support are much appreciated.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, May 6th, 3 p.m. at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 2800 Harris Grade Rd, Lompoc, CA 93436. Parking is limited.
In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to an organization in the Lompoc community, the town that Ron loved.