Christopher Shannon Fay, well known North Country restaurateur, historian, and antique collector, died September 26, 2010 after a six month bout with colon and liver cancer. Mr. Fay, 66, was known not only for his restaurant Chris Fay’s in Waddington, but also for his love for St. Lawrence County, the village of Waddington, and its residents. His knowledge of the area and his great wit made him an amiable, amusing and welcoming host. He was an avid collector of early American, and Victorian era furniture, crystal, and silver, In addition to operating Chris Fay’s he was employed full time in the kitchen at the Highland Nursing Home in Massena. Mr. Fay never married.
He is survived by two sisters, Martha (William) Miller, Washington D.C. and Mary (James) Allan, Chicago, IL; one brother, Martin M. (Mary) Fay, Ogdensburg; and three nephews, James H. Allan, Chicago, Christopher D. Allan, Chicago and Sean P. Fay, Waddington.
Mr. Fay was born in Ogdensburg February 1, 1944, the elder son of Howard Christopher and Mary Josephine nee Houlihan Fay. His childhood years were spent in both Ogdensburg and Waddington until his family moved permanently to Ogdensburg in January 1957. While in Waddington the family lived in their father’s boyhood home on Maiden Lane. Mr. Fay’s family traced their paternal roots to Stephen Fay, who operated the Catamount Inn in Bennington, Vermont prior to the American Revolution. The tavern, used for meetings by Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, may have been a harbinger of Mr. Fay’s restaurant career. In Ogdensburg the family lived in their mother’s childhood home on Greene Street.
Mr. Fay graduated from Ogdensburg Free Academy, 1963, and Paul Smith’s College, School of Hotel Administration, 1965. Throughout the years Mr. Fay operated restaurants in Saranac Lake, Potsdam, Hannawa Falls, and for the last 18 years Waddington.
His Waddington restaurant was notable for its antique surroundings, candle lighted tables, local memorabilia, and chalkboard menu listing daily entrees, but no prices. Most notable, however, was Mr. Fay who made each guest feel both singular and welcomed. He remembered both his diners and their families and would often regale them with stories not heard in years. His love of local genealogy endeared him to many as did his love of music. Occasionally Mr. Fay would exit his kitchen duties to play the piano for his guests. His taste ranged from Classical to Irish melodies to Broadway. He was happiest at his piano where if time allowed he would play for several hours when alone.
Throughout the years Mr. Fay owned a number of beloved dogs to which he was devoted. Their allegiance to him was unequivocal and their shape a product of his good kitchen.
If Mr. Fay’s vocation was that of restaurateur, his avocation was that of antique collector and appraiser. He had an early start in collecting as a youth in Waddington where he attended auctions and house sales. On one occasion as a teenager in Ogdensburg he was advised by his father to devote more time to school and less to antiques. Unfortunately, the following week he was the front-page subject of a Chuck Kelly Ogdensburg Journal photo where he was pictured carrying a large painting from an auction on New York Avenue.
Mr. Fay’s civic commitments included serving on the Board of the United Helpers, the Board of the Waddington Library, and the Waddington Plan commission. His knowledge of both Ogdensburg and Waddington history and architecture qualified him as a living historical resource.
A Mass of Resurrection will be offered for Mr. Fay at St. Mary’s Church in Waddington on Thursday September 30, 2010 at 11:00 a.m., with the Rev. Msgr. Robert Lawler presiding. Burial will be in the family plot of St. Mary’s Cemetery. The family will receive friends at 10:00 a.m. in the foyer of the church before the funeral mass and at the reception.
The Phillips Memorial Home is in charge of arrangements. Mr. Fay suggested any memorials be made to Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley, 6805 US. Hwy 11, Potsdam, NY 13676. Online condolences may be made at www.phillipsmemorial.com