Sunday Q & A with Scott Fairley

Scott Fairley: A self-portrait taken a few years ago on a morning hike in the Elkhorns.

What do your friends call you? Many things over the years, but now they mostly call me Scott.

How old are you? 42, with a birthday coming soon. Given my family history I've got about 3/5s to go.

Where do you live? Pendleton. I grew up in Pendleton and my family and I moved back seven years ago.

What high school did you attend? Pendleton High School.

Your high school mascot? Buckaroos.

Who is the historical figure you most admire? Leonardo DaVinci because he was good at everything he did. He not only designed and built great works of art, architecture, transportation, and civic improvement, but he probably also could have convinced his family to buy him a Weber barbecue for his birthday (hint hint) if his patron would have given him enough time off to invent one.

The living person you most admire? My grandmother. A few years ago, when she was in her mid-90s, she had a stroke. Afterward I asked her how she was doing. "Not so good," she replied. "I'm starting to get weak. I think I'll join the gym." Later she won an award at her gym for her regular attendance. She still walks at least a mile most days, plus she's smart, funny, up-to-date in world and local affairs, tough as nails, and keeps a ready supply of dark chocolate M&Ms on her coffee table.

What do you do? I work for the Governor's Office as the Economic Revitalization Team Eastern Region Coordinator - which means I work with businesses, local government, and state agencies on economic and community development projects in the eight counties of Eastern Oregon.

What's the best thing about your work? I get to work with a lot of smart people who care about Eastern Oregon and work hard to make the region a good place to live.

What is your proudest accomplishment? Watching my son successfully navigate the obstacle course of the teen years as he grows into young adulthood. I'll be prouder yet if he gets a full-ride scholarship to the school of his choice (hopefully U of O: Go Ducks!), and even prouder still if he goes on to get a good job and support his mother and me in the high manner which we deserve but have had to forego on his account.

What is the most difficult challenge in your life these days? Helping my wife get through graduate school. In addition to school, she also works part time, so we don't get to do as much together as I would like - plus we are all getting tired of leftover stir fry and colored clothes that come out of the washer monochromatic.

What do you like to do in your free time? I enjoy backpacking, walking, biking, reading, sitting outside at Great Pacific, and occasionally, working on the house.

What type of electronic equipment do you carry around with you? Just a cell-phone which I use to talk to my wife and leave my son messages because he sees it's me and hits ignore.

If you had to live in another country for a year, where would you go? If I had a year to play with, rather than go to one country, I would like to travel around the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Given the history and the politics of the area, I think it would make a fascinating trip.

If you could change one thing in your community, what would that be? I would like Pendleton to have more family wage jobs so that people who want to live here can support themselves and their family and still have the time, money, and energy to be able to contribute to the community and make it a better place to live.

How many hours do you sleep on average? Seven.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Coffee, oatmeal, a chocolate chip cookie, and some left-over caramel corn once I got to work.

Your favorite beverage? A bottle or glass of IPA enjoyed outside on warm afternoon with good friends or a good book.

Read any good books lately? Some of my favorites include Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization; Return to Sodom and Gomorrah; The Fountainhead; Atlas Shrugged; Catch 22; and Confederacy of Dunces.

Your most prized possession? One of my most prized possessions is a coin from the Say When casino in McDermit, NV. We stayed in McDermit one evening on our way to Winnemucca when my son was eight or nine. We went into the Say When for some pie and on the way out a patron "hit the jackpot" and gave my son a coin for good luck. After that, whenever I had to leave town, my son would give me his lucky coin to hold onto until I safely returned.

What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you? I was fortunate to travel quite a bit in my younger days. One night I spent the evening in a Polish youth hostel with a Pol and a Russian drinking potato vodka. The Pol spoke Russian, the Russian spoke French, and I, having had a year of French in high school, also knew a smattering of French. Early in the evening we had relatively complex conversations like, "You wear nice shoes"; "The red chair is pretty"; "My name is Scott. What time is it?" By the end of the evening we were reduced to shouting toasts of "I love potato!" The next morning nobody mentioned the word potato and I don't think any of us felt like laughing.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? At meals with my family I espouse the values of high fructose corn syrup-free healthy eating, but I am sucker for anything sweet - particularly Up With Donuts apple fritters and Whitey's caramel corn.

What's the one question we didn't ask that you'd like to answer? Yes - I voted for the gas tax, and it heartens me that as a community Pendleton is still willing to invest in itself to make our community a better place to live.

Sunday Q&A is a weekly feature. We believe that variety is the spice of life, and are always on the lookout for Eastern Oregonians to participate. If you'd like to volunteer, or if you have someone else in mind, e-mail Kathryn B. Brown at, write to her at 211 S.E. Byers Ave., Pendleton, OR 97801, or call (541) 278-2667.

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