Jan. 12, 1923 — Oct. 13, 2020
Thomas Valentine Faerber, 97, passed away peacefully in his sleep at Guardian Angel Homes in Lewiston with his son by his side on Oct. 13, 2020. He wanted to live at home in Uniontown as long as possible. With the help of his children and wonderful next-door neighbors, he was able to do so until the last five months.
Tom was born Jan. 12, 1923, to Walter E. and Clara K. (Mayer) Faerber at their home place just outside Uniontown. He joined an older sister, Ernestine, and was followed by brothers David and Carrol (died at age 2½ years) and sister Eilene. He attended the rural Hall Grade School and graduated from Uniontown High School in 1941. He took some college courses before going to Yakima for aircraft mechanics training. He was certified by the Civil Aeronautics Administration as a power plant (engine) mechanic and ground instructor of aircraft engine mechanics. Tom used those skills while employed during World War II.
On returning to Uniontown, Tom joined the family farming operation and began his life’s work. He met the love of his life, Shirley Rose Riedinger, who lived in Clarkston. They married Oct. 24, 1948, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Clarkston. They had two children, Melinda Rose and Michael Thomas. The family lived in Uniontown where Tom and Shirley kept the same family home after the kids were grown. Tom and Shirley went everywhere together. They often visited family around the area. They loved to eat out, went grocery shopping together, and enjoyed browsing thrift and antique stores, finding treasures to add to their collections. Close to their 25th wedding anniversary, they took a trip to Hawaii. They liked it so much they went back again. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1998. After Shirley’s passing in 2003, Tom missed her greatly, often saying he only felt better when he was on a tractor.
Tom continued to enjoy farming for a long time. The farm has been recognized for its agricultural heritage by being registered as a Washington Centennial Farm. Founded by Valentine Mayer in 1887, the farm has been in the family over a century, having been operated by Valentine Mayer, Michael Mayer, Walter Faerber, Thomas Faerber and Michael Faerber. For many years, Tom and Michael worked the farm together. Tom decided to try retirement in 2014, but would happily go out to run a tractor or combine whenever help was needed. It is only the last couple of years that dad’s favorite T-shirt saying “Still plays with tractors” no longer applied.
Tom was a lifelong member of St. Boniface Catholic Church in Uniontown as well as belonging to the Knights of Columbus since 1941. He was the Uniontown assistant fire chief from 1955 to 1960; then he was chief until the 1980s when Whitman County Fire District No. 14 was formed. Tom also served on the Uniontown City Council and was a Director of Farmers State Bank.
Tom was a handyman extraordinaire. As a youngster, he had his own tools and set up a work bench in one of the outbuildings on the ranch. His family nicknamed him “Tinker Tom.” As an adult, he was always helping someone with something. When TV sets starting coming into homes, he got a tube tester so he could repair TVs for townspeople, including the Holy Names Sisters in the convent. He spent many years mowing the Uniontown Community Cemetery as a volunteer. He helped keep the furnace in good repair at the Catholic church and worked on the organ. He was a regular at the annual sausage making day prior to the Uniontown Sausage Feed, cooking sausage patties for the group making the sausage. He went on many Fire Department trips to the Walter Faerber Sky Ranch near Orofino to cut Christmas trees for their annual tree sale project. When he needed something, he could build it.
Tom loved running farm machinery so much, his work was also his play. He liked “playing” with other modes of transportation as well. He ran his racing boat on the Snake River with other Hells Canyon Boat Club members, winning races and bringing home trophies. In a particularly memorable race in 1958, he was one of two front-runners who took spills on the last corner, which postponed the rest of the racing until the next day. Mike and Melinda remember cruising around with him on his Cushman Scooter. He had a private pilot’s license and rented Cessna planes to take the kids up flying with him to do crop inspections on Sundays after Mass. He got tickets for the family to ride the last passenger train from Lewiston to Grangeville. Dad fixed up an old golf cart to ride around in and once even rode an old electric wheelchair from his home to Melinda’s to see if it could make it up the hill.
Dad enjoyed other hobbies, including going to auction sales, tinkering on all the finds he brought home, and reading books about local history, tractors, trains and planes. He liked animals, especially dogs, so he carried treats in his pockets wherever he went.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; his siblings, Ernestine (and husband Dan Dahmen), David, Carrol, and Eilene (and husband John Holmberg); brothers-in-law Rich Kuther (Hilda), Cliff Kuther and Chet Riedinger (Jan); sister-in-law Audrey Polumsky (Lawrence); and some nieces and nephews. He is survived by his daughter, Melinda Faerber (Ray McLean), and son Michael Faerber (Denise); three granddaughters, Sharlene (John Neff), Karla Weber (Charlie Cook) and Nicole (Josh Leavitt); 11 great-grandchildren, Christopher, Joshua, Benjamin, Zachary and Michelle (twins), Nicole (Zac Fleener), Andrew, Brooke, River, Justin and Lilly; 12 great-great-grandchildren, Carter, Aiden, Jace, Bentley, Zoey, Christian and Tristian (twins), Jacob, Oaklee, Kash, Alanna, and Miranda; sisters-in-law Dolores Faerber and Eleanore Kuther; generations of nieces and nephews; and his dear neighbors, Colleen and Brian Bannon, who brightened so many days with their loving visits. Tom loved his family very much, and each new generation gave him a few more smile wrinkles.
Family and close friends will attend a funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Boniface Catholic Church, 207 S. St. Boniface St., Uniontown. Burial will follow at the Uniontown Community Cemetery where others can join the family. Those in attendance must wear masks and observe social distancing at both locations.
Kimball Funeral Home of Pullman is caring for the family. A family gathering will be planned at a later time. Memorial donations in Tom’s honor are suggested to the St. Boniface Endowment Fund or the Whitman County Fire District No. 14 EMT Fund. Online condolences may be sent to www.kimballfh.com.