Obituary: Kathleen Fairley (nee McEnaney)

Grandmother, mother, wife, proud Irishwoman

Kathleen Fairley (nee McEnaney) died peacefully recently at her Upland home surrounded by her family after a tenacious battle with cancer. She was 80 years old.

Kathleen was born in Balbriggan, County Dublin, Ireland in 1943, and also lived in Geneva, Switzerland, London, and other British towns, before emigrating to Canada and finally moving to Upland in 1984. While her growing family took most of her time and focus, she moved on to a successful career at Claremont McKenna College, retiring in 2008.

She always had a keen interest in people. This is what drove her early job as an in-flight stewardess with British Airways, on through to her 35-year career at Claremont Mckenna College’s Dean of Students Office and beyond.

“Her irreverent wit could cause a roar of laughter as much as her kindness could create a touching moment,” her family shared. “She would often say the key to everything was her 57 year marriage to George. Anyone who spent time with them could feel the genuine and deep love they had for each other.”

Her Irish heritage was wrapped up in her identity, as was the importance of her Catholic faith.

“Kathleen will be missed dearly for always having a story to tell and a life lesson to teach,” her family added. “Her biggest life lesson: always be kind, no matter what.”

She is survived by her husband of 57 years, George; sons Gavin (Amy, Aidan, and Emma) and Grant (Krista, Macy, and Owen); and her brother Seamus McEnaney.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Kathleen; brother Joseph; sister Mary; and her beloved dog, Sullivan.

“The rooms will be a little quieter and not as bright, the stories not as lively, and there may be a little less laughter, but there is solace in knowing all the people she touched and befriended and how much she was loved,” her family concluded.

Services will be held Monday, September 25 at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, 2110 N. San Antonio Ave., Upland, CA 91784, with a rosary 10 a.m., followed by Mass at 10:30 and a celebration in Parish Hall at 11:30.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in her name to the Gary Sinise Foundation, or to ChildFund International at


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