Cancer claims longtime Times pressman

Dale V. Fairbanks was 73

Cliff Buchan
News Editor

Dale Fairbanks, the man who was responsible for putting ink to paper for the Forest Lake Times for nearly 40 years, has died.

Dale Fairbanks

Fairbanks died on Wednesday, April 4 at his home in North Branch, just 12 days shy of his 74th birthday on Monday, April 16. He was a lifelong resident of the North Branch area.

Fairbanks fell victim to cancer. He was diagnosed with stage four lung and brain cancer last August. He had previously beaten two forms of cancer.

For parts of five decades, Fairbanks worked in the printing and publishing business in Forest Lake. His affiliation with the Forest Lake Times dates to 1964. He also worked for Forest Lake Printing.

“He was a consummate professional who took great pride in the print products that flowed through Sell Publishing Company,” said Duane A. Rasmussen, former editor and publisher of the Forest Lake Times. It was Rasmussen who hired Fairbanks following his purchase of the Forest Lake Times in January of 1968. The hiring would mark a return to the newspaper business for Fairbanks.

For a short period prior to Rasmussen’s arrival, Fairbanks worked in advertising sales for the newspaper before returning to the print shop. When he returned to Rasmussen’s side in the production department of the newspaper, he worked as a second pressman.

He was later promoted to lead pressman and eventually became production supervisor, managing a team of printers and graphic artists that totaled more than a dozen employees. He would also oversee the distribution department for Sell Publishing Company.

Fairbanks remained in Forest Lake through the company’s sale to ECM Publishers, Inc. in 1993. When the company consolidated its production departments from Forest Lake and Coon Rapids to Princeton in 1998, Fairbanks made the move to Princeton where he continued to work with the Forest Lake productions.

He retired from ECM in 2001.

Early Years

Fairbanks was one of nine children born to Edson and Violet Fairbanks of North Branch.

All seven of the Fairbanks brothers were active in school activities and athletics. Dale Fairbanks was a star prep athlete in football, basketball, baseball and track. In his senior year of 1956, he was named the District 25 most valuable player in the district basketball tournament.

Following high school graduation, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served for three years. He was stationed in Japan for 18 months.

He married Sharon Heins on June 19, 1965 at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Branch. They settled on acreage in North Branch where Dale farmed and started his work in the printing industry.

Dale Fairbanks was at the press controls as the Forest Lake Times was printed for the final time at its Forest Lake plant in February of 1998. (Forest Lake Times file photo)

Farming, family and sports remained important parts of his life.

In 1960 he teamed with his brothers to form a bowling team which continues to this day, now with sons and nephews of the original team members filling roster spots. For many years the team bowled under sponsorship by the St. Croix Valley Peach.

During his retirement years, he continued to farm in North Branch and spent time with his children and grandchildren.

He was a member of American Legion Post 85 in North Branch and an active member in state and national organizations that work to stock wild turkey populations in Minnesota.

Funeral Details

A funeral service for Dale Virgil Fairbanks was Monday, April 9 at Trinity Lutheran Church in North Branch with the Rev. Gary Guptill officiating. Interment was at the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in North Branch.

He is survived by his wife Sharon; sons, Todd (Kris) Fairbanks of Harris, John (Tami) Fairbanks of North Branch and Nathan (Julie) Fairbanks of North Branch; grandchildren, Allison, Joseph, Andrew (Khrissie), Amanda (Jesse) Anderson, Michael, Johnathan Becker, Cory and Ashley; great grandchildren, Arianna Fairbanks and Isabella Anderson; sisters, Joyce (Orman) Beecher of Rock Creek and Janice (Jerome) Nelson of North Branch; brothers, Delmer (Jean) Fairbanks of North Branch and Jim (Pat) Fairbanks of Harris; sisters-in-law, Dolores Fairbanks of North Branch, Walene Fairbanks of St. Cloud, Shirley Fairbanks of Forest Lake and Jeanine Fairbanks of Harris; and many nieces, nephews and extended family.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and four brothers, Gerald, Kenneth, Eugene and Melvin.

Cards and memorials may be sent to the family in care of Grandstrand Funeral Home, 6580 Main St., North Branch, MN 55056. Condolences may be left at