EDITOR'S NOTE: Retired Presbyterian minister David Mair shared the fascinating story of his life, so far, with The Mining Journal. This is part one. Part two will appear in this space Dec. 20.
MARQUETTE - David Mair remembers the first time he met Pat, the woman who was to become his wife.
"When I first laid eyes on her she was pulling a meatloaf out of the oven," he said, eyes twinkling. "I love meatloaf."
Pat, left, and David Mair greet their postal carrier, Jon Edwards, as he delivers the mail to their Marquette home. The Mairs arrived in Marquette in 1991 when David took an interim post as minister at the Presbyterian church. They liked the community so much, they decided to spend their retirement years here. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
Pat retorted: "Little did I know ..."
Indeed, little did she know what adventures the next 50-plus years would hold for the Mairs as David followed his path as a Presbyterian minister. The couple was at the center of two of the biggest battlegrounds for civil rights in American history, living in a variety of communities as he answered the call of ministry. More on that next week.
Now retired, the couple lives in Marquette, one of the last stops on his ministerial tour.
"We liked in Marquette so we stayed," Mair said. "Why? The people. The scenery is nice. We don't hunt or fish or do outdoor sports, but we love to see other people do that.
"We are here because of the people. There is a concentration of good people here and we love it."
It all started a long way from Marquette, in Manhattan, N.Y., where David was born on Jan. 31, 1928, the son of George and Evelyn Mair. George Mair was a Presbyterian minister from Scotland, while his wife, Evelyn, was a New York debutante.
David grew up in the Bronx along with brother George and sister Elizabeth, both of whom are now deceased.
"My father came to America because his father had spent time here," Mair said. "My father immigrated as a young man to Boston. He felt the call to ministry but didn't have enough educational background."
So George Mair attended school in the United States, including Harvard, to become a minister.
"He met my mother in New York City. He was chaplain in the cavalry," he said. "He was a Mair with a horse."
A call from a church in the Bronx was answered by George Mair, who served the congregation for more than 30 years.
David Mair attended Riverdale Country School as a youngster.
"My parents wanted to shield me from the huge mobs in the New York City school system," he said. "They liked the small class sizes there."
Many famous people attended the school, including Robert F. Kennedy.
"I remember seeing him," Mair said. "But he only went (to school) for a few months."
It was during his junior or senior year of high school that Mair decided he, too, wanted to be a minister. He went to Franklin Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., then Union Seminary in New York. During his days as a pastor, he participated in a doctoral program at the San Francisco Seminary during the summers.
He was called to be an assistant minister in Salem, Ohio, and that's where he met Pat, who hailed from Canton, Ohio.
After marrying, the couple moved to Cortland, N.Y.
"It was a little bitty church on the outskirts of town," he said. "It merged into another church and now the space is a parking lot for a hospital."
It was the next stop, in Maryville, Tenn., that brought the Mair family into the midst of the struggles going on in America.
"It was the 1960s and we were very involved in the civil rights movement," Mair said.
So much so that an action associated with those turbulent times was directed at the family.
To find out about that and more, come back to the Boomers & Beyond page Dec. 20.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.