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Founder of Haven Homes and Calvary Baptist Church dies

At the age of 83, Rev. Lester Fair died Saturday, July 11, at Augustana Care Center.

The church and senior health care were very important to the Rev. Lester Fair. When the family came to Hastings more than 40 years ago, he started a church - Calvary Baptist Church (now Calvary Christian), and then a nursing home - Haven Homes (now Augustana Care Center ).

This past Saturday, July 11, Fair, 83, died at Augustana Care Center.

When Lester and Marie Fair moved to Hastings in 1967, he sensed the move would be permanent.

"When the call came to come here to help this church, I felt this is where God wanted us to stay," said Lester Fair in a Star Gazette interview two years ago. "We planned to stay here the rest of our lives."

Originally from Canada (near Edmonton), Fair completed his schooling at a Bible college in Calgary. The Fair's first congregation was in Bock, Minn., near Milaca. During this period, he became interested in senior care and in providing adequate nursing home care. He became a board member of the Elim Homes in Princeton.

After several other ministries, the Fairs made the move to Hastings. At first, he commuted from Richfield to begin a small church here. A small congregation was meeting in an old farmhouse at 15th and Pine streets.

One of the original members, Sven Ranelius, also owned some of the property, which he would sell, and three buildings on the site house Calvary Christian Church, Augustana Care Center and Park Ridge of Hastings. The first church building, the Haven Homes, was built in 1967. There would be two additions to the nursing home.

"He and Marie were leaders, not only in the community, but for Augustana," said Eric Iverson, director of marketing for the Augustana Apple Valley campus (and former director of marketing for the Hastings campus for seven years ).

Fair managed the nursing homes here and in Red Wing for 42 years. In January 1998, the Fairs and the Haven Homes board decided to sell Haven Homes to Augustana Care Corporation.

"Les always told me that he and the family were very careful and selective about who they would sell Haven Homes to, and felt that Augustana was the best candidate to carry on the mission they had started in Hastings in the mid-60s," Iverson said. "True to form, they were always among our strongest financial donors and vocal supporters; for that, we bestowed a couple of honors upon them, including our biggest award, the Board of Directors award in 2001."

The Fairs rarely missed any Augustana event, whether it was in Hastings, Minneapolis or Edina.

"They were truly great friends to us and for that, we will be forever grateful," Iverson said.

Fair was a charter member of the Hastings Rotary Club, formed in November 1981, and was involved in its international student exchange program.

Fair is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marie; four children, eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

A complete obituary appears on page 8A of this issue.