On Friday morning, Dennis Fairall, one of Canada’s best-known coaches, passed away at the age of 67. The Tillsonburg, Ont. native was one of the most decorated coaches in Canadian university history, having been honoured 65 times as the CIS or OUA Coach of the Year in track and field and cross-country. Fairall was known for his coaching accomplishments, but more importantly for his patient and kind, yet determined, demeanour.
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of the legendary Dennis Fairall. The impact he had on our student-athletes, the community, and the entire #LancerFamily was extraordinary. RIP Big Dawg💙💛https://t.co/eNnccH3eMI
— Windsor Lancers (@WindsorLancers) November 6, 2020
Fairall started at the University of Windsor in 1985 and was with the team until 2016. He was the coach of Team Canada’s World University Games four times. Twice he led the Canadian team at the Maccabi Games in Israel. He was behind the action when Canada’s 2005 Pan American Junior team racked up the highest-ever medal total for the event, and he was longtime coach and mentor to Canadian 800m record holder Melissa Bishop-Nriagu.
Fairall had been living with the rare degenerative disease PSP (progressive supranuclear palsy) and stepped away from coaching duties in 2016. He will be remembered in the highest regard by the Canadian track community, but especially by those in Windsor with whom he worked so closely for three decades.