Robert Fairchild, a member of the family that founded WWD and other Fairchild publications, died of a heart attack Monday on a plane en route home to New York from the Bahamas. He was 66.
An avid outdoorsman and wine expert, Fairchild worked for the company in the Sixties and Seventies in various capacities. When he was a college student at the University of Pennsylvania in the early Sixties, he joined the family business as a summer intern at Menswear, then a monthly fashion trade magazine.
Fairchild worked as a foreign correspondent in the company’s Paris bureau between 1966 and 1968, later in radio for then-parent company Capital Cities Inc., and later returned to Menswear, according to then-Menswear editor Mort Gordon. Fairchild Fashion Group is now owned by Condé Nast.
When Fairchild was regaling the Menswear staff at a lunch in 1971 with wine advice, Gordon said he told his mentee jokingly, “If you knew as much about publishing as you do about wine, we’d be much better off.”
Gordon said that two days later, Fairchild bought a 50 percent stake in The House of Burgundy Inc., a New York importing firm, where Fairchild served as president and chief executive officer until his death. In 1994, he purchased the Maison Prosper Maufoux, whose wines House of Burgundy had been importing since 1947, and created the Maison Des Grand Cru to market the Maufoux wines globally. The French Parliament made Fairchild a Chevalier of the Ordre du Mérite Agricole on July 16, 1987, in recognition of his efforts on behalf of French wine.
Fairchild is survived by his four daughters, Stephanie Griswold, Suzie Kovner, Samantha Storkerson and Serena Sheldon, and six grandchildren.
“He had an amazing joie de vivre,” said Griswold.
Respects can be paid at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, 1076 Madison Avenue, on Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Services will be held at The Church of St. Thomas More, 65 E. 89th Street, at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine or Avon Old Farms School.