Beloved retiree and former RUAEA president Jim Fauber passed away October 7th, 2022. Jim was born and raised in Charleston, W. Va. as an only child. In 1946, at the age of 17 he joined the Army Air Force (the Air Force was not yet a separate military branch) and worked his way up to Sergeant. When he reached the rank of Corporal, he was put on flight pay and was classified as an “Aerial Engineer” (Flying Mechanic) and assigned to the B-25, A-26, P-61, B-17, DC-3 and DC-4 airplane types. He was also selected to appear in the movie “12 O’clock High” starring Gregory Peck, Gary Merrill and Dean Jagger, among others. In 1949, Jim was discharged from the military and he enrolled in the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, OK and graduated with his A&E (Aircraft & Engine) license which he used to hire on with Capital Airlines at the Washington, D.C. airport.
In Washington, D.C. Jim married his first wife, Vivian, to whom he was married for 25 years until she passed away from cancer in 1976. After one year in DC, Jim transferred to Charleston, W. Va. where he worked for 9 years until the Capital-United merger in June 1961. Once Jim was with United, he had a choice of stations he could transfer to, and he picked Seattle and worked there as a Lead Mechanic. He retired in 1987 with 36 years of service to Capital and United. It was in Seattle that he met his second wife, Bonnie, at a dance. Jim originally didn’t want to go to the dance, but his daughter, Kay, talked him into going after much discussion. They were married in 1977 and enjoyed 39 years of marriage until her passing in 2016.
Jim assisted in dealing with a 727 airplane hijacking in August 1972 that started in Reno, flew on to Vancouver, BC and ended up in Seattle. While the hijacker was in the cockpit giving instructions to the pilots, the flight attendants quietly had the passengers exit the plane, which angered the hijacker. Jim’s role was to work with the FBI and to show them how to disable the aircraft to keep it in place. It ended with the hijacker being wounded by an FBI agent.
After retirement, Jim & Bonnie moved to the Phoenix, Arizona area and Jim became very involved with the retired United employee organization named RUAEA (Retired United Airlines Employees Association) and Jim was elected to be Executive Vice President in 2000 and President in 2002. He focused on selecting the locations for holding the RUAEA annual conventions that met his standards of safety and convenience of location. He was a tough bargainer in securing fair hotel rates for the members, and also good rates for the tour buses. One of his bargaining techniques was to make it perfectly clear that most of our members were not wealthy well-paid pilots. Consequently, he ended up with reasonable contracts. He also believed that his following the maxim “timing is everything” contributed to his success as a negotiator.
He did a lot of traveling during this period. A key trip was the one he made to Boulder, CO in 2003 to meet with the Spectrum Data Corporation (now Arc Seven Technology) owners and to get them to agree to set up a RUAEA website for no charge if he gave them the right to run the website. He then picked two United retirees, Jim Sommerfield and Bob Kalicki, to help maintain the website which is still in use today. Jim & Bonnie used to spend their winters in Arizona, where they hosted Christmas Parties for the local RUAEA chapter. Jim was also the Phoenix chapter president every-other year, switching with Bud Hubbard.
In 1997, he was General Chairman of the RUAEA annual convention held in Phoenix. From 2002-2004, Jim was elected the President of RUAEA and organized a large convention held in Seattle in 2004, which was a huge success. Jim came to know some of the officers of United, including then CEO, Glenn Tilton. Their relationship was so good that after a meeting together, Mr. Tilton took one of Jim’s business cards and gave it to his secretary saying: “Any time Jim calls me put him through, unless I’m in a meeting.”
During the United Airlines bankruptcy from December 2002 until February 2006, Jim was busy keeping retirees informed on subjects like pensions, medical insurance, flight passes, etc. and RUAEA grew to 11,000 members with the employees knowing that RUAEA was devoting its efforts to making sure retirees were treated fairly. Jim, although retired, spent a great deal of his time in serving our membership. United retirees have a lot to be thankful for Jim.