First Lady Pays Respects to Retired N.J. Trooper
Michelle Obama among those who attend service for Preston 'Jay' Fairlamb Jr.
Preston "Jay" Fairlamb Jr., by the accounts of those who knew him, was a big man with an even bigger heart.
His reach even stretched to the White House.
First Lady Michelle Obama was among those who attended the visitation service Tuesday at St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church for the 64-year-old Butler man who died in a motorcycle accident in Hardyston last month.
While the White House Communications Office did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday, Nancy Regg, media and public relations director for Rolling Thunder, confirmed Obama's appearance at the service.
"I was there when she came in," she said. "She was there for five minutes, said her condolences to [Fairlamb's wife] and left."
Friends of Fairlamb's said that while serving his country, working in construction or as a New Jersey State Police trooper or spending time with his family, Fairlamb was fully invested in what he was doing and often inspired those around him to be passionate as well.
"Certainly, he was just a very 'larger than life' individual," said Butler Police Chief Ed Card, who knew Fairlamb for more than 30 years. "He was a big guy. Whenever he went into a room, of course, he was always filled with laughter and he would always bring a room to life."
Card and Fairlamb met at a construction company where they both worked and later continued their professional relationship when Fairlamb became a state trooper. But their personal friendship continued over the years because of Card's enjoyment of Fairlamb's company.
"I stayed on that [construction] job even after I became a police officer just because every day was fun. When you worked with him, every single day was just a great time and although it was hard work and monotonous, just being there with him and his sense of humor and the way he went about doing his job on a daily basis, he was just a lot of fun and he loved life," Card said.
For 12 years, Fairlamb found a way to combine his love of motorcycles with his affections for veterans. He joined the Rolling Thunder Inc. national organization, which works to garner government support for the Prisoners of War Missing in Action (POWMIA) issue and support veterans. Rolling Thunder hosts regular motorcycle rallies and Artie Muller, national executive director, according to Fairlamb, a Vietnam combat veteran, at one point served as head of security for a motorcycle rally in Washington.
"He was always at events, he was always at the [veterans'] hospital. He was a really great guy who really liked to do things for veterans and people who needed help," Muller said.
Through one Rolling Thunder event, Fairlamb met former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who offered condolences to the Fairlamb family Friday through her Facebook page.
Fairlamb had many passions in life, according to his best friend, Don Schaible, also a retired New Jersey State Police trooper, including working for the state police, which he retired from in 2002 as a lieutenant after 28 years, and being with his wife, Kathleen, children and grandchildren.
"Just a great, great guy. I don't know that he had any enemies. He was just a teddy bear, it took an awful lot for him to be mad," he said.
Schaible said Fairlamb considered the state police to be a second family. Fairlamb was primarily stationed in Troop B, which covers northern New Jersey, and during his career served as station commander for the Newark and Totowa stations.
"He had a lot of love and feelings for the state police," he said.
Regg echoed the sentiments of Fairlamb's other friends and said he will be missed.
"He was 6-foot-6 and he had a heart as big as he was," Regg said. "He was the most amazing person I have ever met in my life and he taught us all so much on how to just be kind to each other."