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Roger Faber

October 4, 1931 ~ November 5, 2020 (age 89)


After a long and fulfilled life, with nothing but gratitude in his heart, Roger J. Faber, 89, departed this life on November 5, 2020. Born in Grand Rapids, from an early age Roger found joy in learning, especially about science, even building his own telescope when he was in high school. After studying chemistry at Calvin College, he earned a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Michigan State, and went on to devote his life to teaching undergraduates the joys of finding out about the world through physics, first at Calvin, then for 31 years at Lake Forest College in Illinois. In addition to teaching courses for physics majors, he specialized in courses for non-scientists, including astronomy. Roger was beloved by his students, twice winning the “Great Teacher” award chosen by the senior class. He also won a Trustee Award for Excellence in Teaching. He was admired and respected by his colleagues as well, and was regularly chosen by his peers to represent them on faculty governance committees including the one that made decisions regarding promotion and tenure. Roger’s own intellectual curiosity led him to carry out two sabbaticals at Boston University, where he delved into the Philosophy of Science. Out of this came his book, Clockwork Garden: On the Mechanistic Reduction of Living Things. 

Following nearly 40 years of teaching, Roger moved back to Michigan, settling eventually back where his life began, in Grand Rapids. In retirement he indulged his love of sailing, spending many happy weeks each summer with his wife, Carol, aboard their boat, cruising the North Channel of Lake Huron. Travel, reading, cats, home improvement projects, painting, and completing cryptic crosswords provided other joyful moments. He even designed and built a sundial that is beautiful as well as functional.

Throughout his life, Roger was a devout Christian who as an adult found himself drawn to the beauty of the liturgy of the Episcopal Church. For much of his life, Roger sang in various church choirs, and even tried ringing handbells for a couple of seasons. At the end of his life he found his spiritual home at St. Mark’s in downtown Grand Rapids. 

Roger leaves behind his beloved wife, Carol, whom he often described as "the lighting system of my life" (quoting one of his favorite authors, P.G. Wodehouse). Their partnership greatly enriched his retirement years. Other survivors include his brother, Don (Carole) Faber, daughters, Deborah (Mike) Bill, Margaret Faber (Steve Dawes), Susan Dickerson, granddaughters, Katie Perry (Ian Carr), Victoria and Allegra Dawes, and great-grandson Simon Carr, all of whom he loved deeply. 

The family would especially like to thank the nurses and therapists of Mary Free Bed At Home, as well as Nurse Susan of Cancer and Hematology Centers of West Michigan and Nurse Kaila of Faith Hospice.

A memorial service will be held sometime in 2021 at St Mark’s Episcopal Church, 134 Division Ave N, Grand Rapids MI 49503. The family requests that memorial donations be made to the church, or to the Little Traverse Conservancy Cube Point Land Preservation Effort, 3264 Powell Road, Harbor Springs MI 49740, Attn. Ty Ratliff.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

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