As a young man George Fayen found passion in the classroom and the golf course. During the War, he and his parents moved frequently for his father’s position in the Army. He enjoyed his time in Bel Air, Maryland, Montclair, New Jersey, and elsewhere. When the family finally settled near Pine Orchard in Branford, George found a love for golf. He competed in state championships and joined the team at The Taft School in Watertown caddying for the pros throughout New England during the summer.
In the Fall of 1949, George arrived at Yale University, where he spent much of the rest of his life and career. He played varsity golf and was the captain of the riflery team. In his senior year, he was named the Scholar of the House for Berkeley College and had the unusual opportunity to spend the whole year on a single research project, producing a two-volume essay on the Faust legend. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Honors with Exceptional Distinction.
He won a Henry Fellowship and spent the next two years at Oxford in Balliol College studying English literature and earning a “First” in his oral exams. Some of his warmest memories were of weekends spent playing golf in the English countryside, being hosted by generous British families, and finding the greens despite the rain and fog.
Fayen earned a PhD at Yale in 1960, winning a Porter Prize for his dissertation, and joined the faculty of the English Department. He analyzed the work of D. H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy, other British novelists, modernist poets, and fiction writers, earning support for his research from the Guggenheim Foundation and as a Morse Fellow at Yale. In 1968 he was Associate Professor at Smith College and then at Northeastern University.
Starting in 1983 he returned to Yale as a Lecturer in English where he could concentrate on his greatest passion: sparking a love for language and ideas among students and mentoring young people as a freshman advisor. Never relying on past successes, Fayen prepared anew for each class by reading and re-reading his dog-eared copies of Homer, Chaucer, Wordsworth, and Dante. He filled student papers with hand-written notes, kept his office doors open at all hours, and made life-long friends with former students. Asked recently how he wanted to be remembered, he responded “I helped people do more than they thought they could.” His dedication to students was recognized with a Yale College Teaching Award in 1995 and the Berkeley College Mentoring Award in 2013.
George Fayen married Eugenia Joyce in 1975. Together they created a family with their daughter Sarah and George’s older daughters Hilary and Alexandra. George was a fearless father. He loved the outdoors and shared that love with his children. He took the family on camping trips that included canoeing, fishing, and hiking. He taught his kids to cross-country ski, took them ice-skating at night on frozen ponds, and practiced softball in East Rock Park with hand-made home plates. There were many summer vacations on Cape Cod with trips to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox.
George loved the Yale and New Haven communities. He and Genie enjoyed attending local Yale theater productions, music concerts, and basketball games. George was also one of the city’s original bicycle commuters. In an age before bike lanes and bicycle helmets, George could be seen riding his classic black Raleigh three-speed up Prospect Street balancing heavy bags of books on his handlebars. He was a regular at Clark’s Dairy, the Educated Burgher, and Yorkside Pizza. He was interested in people’s ideas and passions. He could engage the local contractor in discussions of Beowulf and gifted his favorite books to bartenders.
George is survived by his wife Eugenia Joyce Fayen, daughters Hilary Fayen Higgins of Bellingham, Washington, Alexandra Scott Fayen of Madison, Wisconsin, and Sarah Fayen Scarlett of Houghton, Michigan as well as five grandsons and four great-grandsons. He is also survived by his cousin, Mark Staples of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. A private family burial service at Grove Street Cemetery and a Celebration of Life gathering are planned for later in the summer. Arrangements are with the Hawley Lincoln Memorial, 424 Elm St., New Haven.