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Fairl Zurbuchen

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Fairl (Eagle) Zurbuchen, 84, of Yellow Springs, Ohio, died at home Dec. 22, 2023, after living a long, energetic, very active and fulfilling life.

She was born in the mountains of northwest Virginia to Paul and Grace Eagle, one of five siblings, sisters Jewell, Barbara and Caroline and brother Hansel. Fairl was a precocious child with a quick wit and full of questions; she read all the books in her small school’s library, and used to run up the mountains with her father who gave her the nickname “Squirrel.” Her family moved to Ohio in the mid ’50s.

She attended West Carrollton High School, graduated top of her class and gave the commencement address. During high school, Fairl Eagle and John Zurbuchen’s solid friendship grew. She married John in 1958 and joined him at Antioch College and started her family. In 1962, they built their home in Yellow Springs and lived there ever since.

Deeply interested and active in her community, she joined the League of Women Voters, was a civil rights activist — the Gegner affair — and served on the Yellow Springs Village Planning Commission for many years. She spearheaded the campaign for passage of the Yellow Springs Village income tax.

Fairl worked in the Antioch College Art Department as secretary, budget controller and de facto chair, and later worked in Antioch College’s Finance Office. One of her major accomplishments was securing funds to meet payroll during the financial crisis.

During that time, she pursued business studies at Antioch and earned her BA in 1980. She went on to obtain her MBA from the University of Dayton in 1983. She was the only woman in the Operations Management class.

Having been an adult student herself, and with encouragement from her mentor at Antioch, she set out to teach adult students as a faculty member of Vermont College’s Adult Degree Completion Program, at which she taught for a decade. She had a special gift of recognizing the inherent ability in her students and bringing out the best in them. She introduced them to computer word processing and data transmission over phone lines, as there was no internet then.

Continuing her education and honing her skills, she achieved her CPA certification in 1993, and opened her practice as accountant, financial advisor and tax preparer. She loved the work and her clients and looked forward to “tax season.” It was a “yearly check-up” for her clients, both personal as well as financial.

Fairl was a complex person with an expansive range of interests, a quick wit and a sharp sense of humor. She had a keen sense for justice, was a feminist and pushed boundaries. Wise beyond her age, she always offered good counsel, whether asked or not. She was a caring spirit with a generous heart, youthful and forward-looking. One doctor remarked that she appeared 55 instead of 80.

She loved good writing and believed in short, well-crafted sentences with no superfluous words. “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” This served her students well when editing their papers.

Although an atheist, Fairl was very spiritual, connecting with her ancestral roots of the eastern band of the Cherokees. This spirituality emanated from reflecting on life through her walks in the mountains, and the stories of creation, life in harmony with nature, respect for mother earth and death — “tread lightly and leave no trace.”

Fairl’s primary focus was on her family. She was a doting wife and a loving and giving mother, supporting her children’s aspirations and adventures. During vacations, she enjoyed family trips to Cape Cod, Lake Michigan and the Great Smoky Mountains for camping and hiking. Fairl did her most serious hiking in her 70s, climbing mount LeConte 10 times, taking all five trails — some more than once — and scaling Mt. Cammerer three times, at 11 miles roundtrip, including 3,045 feet of elevation gain.

When visiting big cities, art and science museums were a favorite destination. Fairl was a collector of Cambridge amethyst glass and a fan of flamingos and giraffes. She loved “Shakespeare Under-the Stars” on the front lawn at Antioch. She was proud of the red Mazda Miata she acquired on her 60th birthday.

Unfortunately, Fairl succumbed to the ravages of systemic scleroderma, which she had valiantly battled for nearly 20 years.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Grace Eagle; her father, Paul Eagle; her sister, Jewell Schuler; and brother, Hansel Eagle.

She is survived by her loving husband of 65 years, John Zurbuchen, of Yellow Springs, Ohio; son, Michel Zurbuchen, of Yellow Springs; daughter, Heidi (Zurbuchen) Davis, of Indiana; grandchildren, Renae Hand, Tegan Davis and Raven Zurbuchen; and great-grandchildren, Laurel and Emily Hand.

A true intellectual and a renaissance woman of our time, Fairl is sorely missed.

Respecting Fairl’s wishes, there are no services planned, although a celebration of her life, or wake, will occur with details to be determined.


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