United States Forest Service
Forest Service Officer, United States Department of Agriculture
Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations
Olympic Peninsula, US, 09/20/2008
Officer Kristine Fairbanks was shot and killed while investigating a suspicious vehicle on FS Road 2880 on the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington state.
There’s no evidence slain U.S. Forest Service officer Kristine “Kris” Fairbanks knew her alleged assailant, Shawn Roe, a sometime tree-trimmer with a history of domestic-violence-related convictions. But Fairbanks, 51, who died of a gunshot Saturday after stopping Roe’s truck, knew well the trauma domestic violence can wreak, and she spent years — and money — helping salve the wounds of victims.
“She pretty much saved our lives,” former neighbor Rachel Williams, 20, said Sunday. “My sister and I were going through a domestic-violence situation, and she came over and got us out of the house and called for backup.”
That’s just one example of the intertwined courage and compassion those who knew Fairbanks said she so freely displayed.
It was about six years ago when Fairbanks rescued Rachel and her twin, Andrea, then entering their teens. They lived across the street from the Fairbanks family — husband Brian, 15-year-old daughter Whitney — in the tiny Olympic Peninsula town of Forks. As the years passed, Kristine Fairbanks unfailingly stepped in to become “like our second mom,” Rachel Williams said. It was a role she never stopped playing. When Rachel lacked the money to attend her senior prom, Fairbanks helped her buy a glittery turquoise gown. When the girls needed computers, she bought each a laptop. There were frequent dinners at the Fairbanks home, where Kris would sometimes cook her specialty, Cornish game hens, and entertain the girls with what Rachel describes as a “really goofy” sense of humor.
Also served up were gently delivered life lessons: Stand up to abuse. Make your life better.
Known as something of a “dog whisperer,” Fairbanks’ passion for canines propelled her into volunteer leadership of Forks’ 4-H dog club, called Happy Tails.
Twenty-two kids, from elementary age through high school, belonged and not all could afford to participate, said Kayla Hansen, whose daughters were members along with Fairbanks’ daughter. Hansen said Fairbanks and her daughter Whitney were especially close, and helping Whitney and her Jack Russell terrier compete in 4-H brought her joy.
With Happy Tails members, Fairbanks again opened her heart and her wallet, for leashes, food and grooming, and once, a $300 vet bill.”She wanted the kids to have a good time and learn something about their dog, and if you happened to win something … great,” said Lori Hanson, the 4-H club’s assistant leader. “She is going to be hard to replace.”
But in their own ways, the Williams sisters are going to try. Because of Kris Fairbanks’ mentoring, Rachel Williams developed a love of dogs that’s led to a job with a veterinarian. Her sister Andrea’s goal is to become a law-enforcement officer.
“I loved her,” Andrea said Sunday, breaking into tears. “I’ll make her proud.”
Officer Fairbanks had served with the United States Forest Service for 22 years. She is survived by her husband and 15-year-old daughter.