In memoriam: William M. Fairley, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences

Author: Karla Cruise

William M. Fairley
William M. Fairley

William M. Fairley, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences at the University of Notre Dame, passed away Oct. 9. He was 93.

Fairley earned a bachelor’s degree at Colby College, a master’s degree in geology from the University of Maine and a doctoral degree in geology (using the G.I. bill) from Johns Hopkins University.

Before beginning his academic career, Fairley was employed by the Army Map Service, was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps and served in an Intelligence Office as a cartographic draftsman during the Korean conflict. He also worked for the Georgia Marble Co. in Georgia and Virginia.

At Notre Dame, Fairley taught environmental geology and minerology for 33 years. He also served as assistant dean in the College of Science, before earth sciences became part of the College of Engineering.

In his research, Fairley used field mapping and petrographic studies to investigate stratigraphy, structures and metamorphic zones in pre-Cambrian rocks, particularly in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. In 1965 he wrote “The Murphy syncline in the Tate quadrangle, Georgia,” a technical bulletin prepared for geologists engaged in the exploration and discovery of marble deposits.

Fairley, who retired in 1991, is survived by two children and six grandchildren.