KALISPELL — On Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, Orma Mae Zander Fairbank, loving wife and mother of four children, passed away at the age of 86. Orma was born on July 9, 1933, to Grace and Julius Zander on a homestead near Harlem. 

Orma was the sixth child and only girl born to Julius and Grace Zander. The family left the homestead and relocated to a farm near Florence just prior to Orma’s high school years. 

Orma won a scholarship to the St. Patrick School of Nursing in Missoula. She graduated as a Registered Nurse and was initially employed by the County Hospital before being hired to work at St. Patrick Hospital. She transitioned to an instructor at the St. Pat’s School of Nursing until taking a position as St. Pat’s surgery supervisor. She retired in 1990 as a vice president of the hospital.

While still a nursing student she became engaged to Donald Fairbank.  Following her graduation in 1954, she and Don were married on Nov. 28, 1954; a union of nearly 65 years.

Orma defined herself, proudly, as a nurse. Although she retired from nursing in 1990, she would maintain her nursing license into her 80s. She embodied the best that a nurse could be — intelligent, always warmly caring, compassionate, and skilled. 

Orma was a source of strength, wisdom, and counsel to her family whom she dearly loved having around her. She was selfless; her family always came first with her. As the in-laws, grandchildren — and the great-grandchildren — arrived, her heart expanded to encompass all with great love. 

In 1990, following her retirement from nursing, Orma and Don relocated to Harlowton, where Orma, a fine seamstress, would make and donate hundreds of quilts to her church’s charity. For many years Don and Orma were "snow birds" migrating south each winter to Yuma, Arizona. 

Orma had a beautiful smile that would light up the room, and her warm and lovely eyes would positively snap with life. She was always an optimist, and believed firmly in the good in all people. 

In 2015 Orma and Don briefly relocated to Columbia Falls before moving into assisted care living in Kalispell.

Orma is survived by her loving husband, Donald Fairbank, her four children, Steven and Jill Fairbank, Diana Fairbank, Stacey and Rodger Freier, and Daniel and Kathi Fairbank, her nine grandchildren, her twelve great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

Orma has departed this world and is now in heavenly peace. Her beautiful soul will be greatly missed by all, but our love for her will continue on forever.

Her life will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Columbia Falls, with burial following service at Fairview Cemetery.

Friends are encouraged to visit our website at buffalohillfh.com to leave notes of condolences for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory caring for the family.

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