By: Nicole Hamilton
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Retired Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra violinist Laurent Joseph Fafard spent his life inspiring others through music.
As a violin teacher, it wasn't unusual for one-hour lessons to turn into three-hour lessons about life.
"He was a very compassionate person who gave of his talents beyond what was expected," said his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Fafard of Brooks, Maine.
Mr. Fafard died a few days before his 68th birthday, which he would have celebrated Jan. 23, in his Avondale home.
Stacey Wooley of Clifton began playing the violin in his youth with Mr. Fafard as his teacher and mentor.
"He was very positive - very supportive. He saw to it that my family could afford lessons and made sure I got a good instrument and a good bow," said Mr. Wooley, who is now himself a violinist with the CSO and once shared a music stand with Mr. Fafard.
Mr. Fafard was born into a musical family. Raised in Philadelphia and upstate New York, he and his seven brothers and sisters played together alongside their mother - who played an upright bass - and under the direction of their father.
The Fafard Family Ensemble played concert halls throughout the United States and Canada, and they had their own weekly radio program in Proctor, N.Y.
By the time the family string orchestra reunited to play the New York World Fair in 1964-65, they had earned a reputation similar to that of the von Trapp family of singers.
Mr. Fafard served in the Air Force in the mid-1950s, before earning a degree in music from Potsdam State Teachers College in New York. He later earned a bachelor's degree in music from Indiana University in 1961.
For a few summers, he taught violin at the Meadow Mound School of Music in West Port, N.Y. A student building at Meadow Mound now bears his name.
He played for the Minneapolis Symphony and then spent one year - 1967 - as a violinist with the Detroit Symphony.
That year, then-CSO Music Director Max Rudolf called Mr. Fafard and invited him to play with the Cincinnati symphony. He accepted and began an almost 30-year tenure with CSO in 1969.
After Mr. Fafard retired, he dedicated much his time to the Church of Scientology of Ohio, based in Cincinnati, where he served as a trainer to the church's new counselors.
In response to the civil unrest here in April 2001, Mr. Fafard was pivotal in organization of a day of interfaith reconciliation.
"He believed in the diversity of man and commonality of the spirit," said his friend, Mary Harrill of Clifton.
A Fafard Memorial Listening Library is being planned in the Essex Art Studios, Walnut Hills, in June.
A brother, Rene, preceded him in death.
Survivors include four brothers, Maurice of Binghamton, N.Y., Andrew of Safety Harbor, Fla., and Paul Candide-Fafard of New York City, and Bert of Brooks, Maine; and two other sisters, Helene Fafard-Ilardo of Rochester, N.Y., and Therese Fafard-Stephany of Severna Park, Md.
A memorial celebration will be at 5 p.m. today in Corbett Tower of Music Hall, 1243 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine.
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