Mayor announces large downtown gift

Released by City of Tyler:

TYLER, TX - The City of Tyler announced today that the R.W. Fair Foundation and the Fair estate have gifted two Downtown buildings and several other parcels of land to the City for use in future public private partnerships that will help with revitalization efforts.

"We are very thankful to the R.W. Fair Foundation for making this generous gift that has the best interests of the entire community at heart," said Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass. "Having assets that can be used to attract private reinvestment is a major advantage, particularly in these tougher financial markets."

Of the two buildings located at 121 and 123 S. Broadway, one is currently vacant (the Lindsey Building) and one is occupied (The Fair Foundation Building).  The City will continue the tenant relationships, as well as the existing property management contract, and intends to recognize and continue to promote the building as an energy center in support of recent industry growth initiatives.

"This change in ownership should be transparent to the tenants in the Fair Foundation Building," commented City Manager Mark McDaniel.  "The Lindsey Building will be land banked for long-term future projects.  Our efforts will be to look for opportunities to attract an investor to adaptively reuse the building that has been vacant for many years."

Also gifted are parking lots located at the corners of Elm and Broadway/College.

"Parking is a hot commodity in downtown," added McDaniel.  "Owning these lots, protecting this parking asset, and possibly leveraging it for additional parking are critical for the future development of downtown."

The square footage of the Fair Foundation Building at 121 S. Broadway is in excess of 95,000 square feet and the building has eight stories.  The S.A. Lindsey Building at 123 S. Broadway has eight floors and more than 50,000 square feet of space.

"We are pleased to gift these properties to the City in honor of the entire Fair family," said Barbara Fair, President of the R.W. Fair Foundation.  "I would like to believe that Mr. R.W. and his late sons Wilton and James and daughter Martha would be proud to see their legacy live on and helping the revitalization of Downtown."

Fair Family History:

Few have crated a greater impact on their community, their state, nation and the world than R.W. Fair achieved during his lifetime. Born of humble beginnings near Arp in 1886, R.W. Fair was a highly succesful farmer, oilman, philanthropist and religious and civic leader.

Both of R.W.Fair's parents were school teachers and he was grateful for the education he received at Summer Hill Select School near Omen. His first job was a rural (horseback delivery) mail carrier during which time he became interested in growing peaches and pecan trees. In 1923, he moved his family to Tyler and by the 1930s, he had established large peach and pecan plantations in Texas and Arkansas and developed several varieties that are still popular today. One of his earliest ventures was the Texas Pecan Nursery located in Tyler, which was the larget paper shell pecan operation west of the Mississippi. R.W. would later quip that businesses whose names begin with the letter "P" were always very good for him.

In 1931, Mr. Fair leased one of his peach orchards to a Dallas oilman named H.L. Hunt, who had recently drilled a successful oil producer on a farm just down the road. That well, the Daisey Bradford #3, proved to be the discovery well for the vast East Texas field. One of the early subsequent wells Hunt drilled was the R.W. Fair Peach Orchard Well that was completed in March 1931, producing 2,300 barrels per day. Although R.W. Fair had no experience in the oil business, his entrepreneurial instincts took over and shortly thereafter, he became the first individual to finance 100 percent working interest in a well drilled on his own property with 100 percent royalty interest. The rest is history and Fair was in the "P"etroleum business, successfully developing fields in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Louisiana and Mississippi.

When asked about his fortunate circumstances, Mr. Fair replied, "The Lord placed me on this site, I expect to put the income where it will help somebody besides me. Our family tithed before we had oil."

Just three years later, in 1934, Mr. Fair and his wife Mattie, established the R.W. Fair Foundation , which continues their legacy of generosity and service to the community still today.

During his lifetime, some of Mr. Fair's many accomplishments included funding over 1,000 college educations for theological students worldwide; he served on the Board of Trustees of both SMU and Lon Morris College for 39 years; with the establishment of the Fair Religious Film Service in 1947, he paid for the production of several full length faith-based motion pictures translated into languages from around the globe; he printed and distributed over 12 million copies of "A Better World Begins With Me" pamphlets worldwide; he was a long-time member of Marvin United Methodist Church, serving as Chairman of the Board of Stewards and taught men's bible study.

Until his death in 1965, Mr. Fair remained very active in the Tyler community. Some of his activities included Chamber of Commerce Officer, Bank Director, President of the Tyler Rotary Club, Chairman of the Salvation Army, Director of the East Texas Fair Association, President of the East Texas Boy Scout Council, TISD Board of Trustees and Treasurer of the Texas College Advisory Committee. He was a Founder and the first President of the East Texas Hospital Association (now ETMC) and a Trustee of Houston Methodist Hospital. In 1941, he received the T.B. Butler award for Tyler's Outstanding Citizen.

R.W. and Mattie Fair had three children: Wilton Fair, James Fair and Martha Fair Dubell, all of who inherited R.W. Fair's spirit of service and generosity. Our world and particularly our community is a much better place due to the efforts of this family for more than seven decades.