JFK-friend Paul 'Red' Fay dies in Woodside; they met in PT boat training during World War II

He was undersecretary of the Navy in Kennedy Administration

A funeral Mass will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, at St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco for Paul Burgess "Red" Fay of Woodside. Mr. Fay died Sept. 23 at his home in Woodside surrounded by family, after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for a number of years. He was 91.

Mr. Fay was known for his close friendship with President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, whom he met while in PT boat training during World War II. They were assigned to the same base in the South Pacific, but Mr. Fay did not the serve on PT 109, the boat John Kennedy commanded and that sank during World War II. Then Lt. j.g. Kennedy helped save some of the crew.

Mr. Fay worked on President Kennedy's election campaigns for the House of Representatives, Senate, and the presidency. Born in San Francisco to a distinguished family, Mr. Fay was a graduate of the Thacher School in Ojai, California, and Stanford University.

After working briefly for his father's company, the Fay Improvement Co., he joined the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor.

Upon graduating from Officer's Candidate School, he was sent to PT Boat School in Melville, Rhode Island. While serving in the South Pacific, Ensign Fay's PT boat was disabled by a torpedo from a Japanese plane, but managed to limp to base. He was awarded a Bronze Star.

At the end of the war, Lt. Fay was discharged from the Navy and rejoined the Fay Improvement Co. In 1947, he married Anita Marquez of Mill Valley.

Following John Kennedy's election as president in 1960, Mr. Fay was appointed undersecretary of the Navy, an office he held until January 1965.

When he returned to San Francisco, Mr. Fay wrote a book, "The Pleasure of his Company," about his close friendship with the late president.

In 1967 the Fay Improvement Co. was sold. Mr. Fay then became a founding partner of William Hutchinson & Co., an investment research and brokerage firm. In 1975 Mr. Fay reconstituted the Fay Improvement Co. as a financial consulting and business ventures firm.

He was for many years a director of First American Financial and Vestaur Securities. He retired in 2005. Mr. Fay was an accomplished master of ceremonies and reveled in the spotlight, say family members. At the drop of a hat, he loved to present his unique renditions of "Hooray for Hollywood" and "Me and My Shadow," they say.

An accomplished athlete, he was captain of the soccer team in his senior year at Thacher and played baseball at Stanford. He enjoyed touch football, pick-up basketball, combative tennis and competitive golf. There were many days in his 80s when he would play both tennis and golf, say family members.

Mr. Fay was a member of the Pacific Union Club, Bohemian Club, Burlingame Country Club, Chevy Chase Club, California Tennis Club and the Vintage in Indian Wells, California.

He contributed his time to such charitable causes as the Robert Odell Foundation, the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation, the Youth Tennis Foundation, and the American Ireland Fund. The fund's San Francisco chapter named him "Man of the Year" in 1995.

He was a trustee of the Naval War College Foundation and of Mount St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth of San Francisco.

He is survived by his wife, Anita Fay, of Woodside; children Katherine Fay, Paul B. Fay III, and Sally Fay Cottingham; and seven grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to Youth Tennis Advantage, 610 Sixteenth St, #322, Oakland, CA 94612.

■ Washington Post story and picture.

■ Los Angeles Times story and picture.

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Like this comment
Posted by Seth Hoffman
a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2009 at 11:58 am

Rest in peace Red..I feel so blessed to have known you...have missed seeing you and Anita in the in your antique Lincoln and Anita in her little Ford station wagon always smiling...always on the go...wishing you peace and serenity in your new place in heaven...sending Anita a hug...I'm sorry for your loss...I can only imagine...xoxo Seth

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