Lorena King Fairbank, a resident of Washington since 1944, died of cardiac arrest Monday at her home here. She was 105.
Shortly before her 100th birthday Mrs. Fairbank recalled her early years for a visitor: dancing at the White House when Grover Cleveland was president; skimming over the snow in a two-horse sleigh; marching in behalf of the vote for women (she made it clear that she was a suffragist, that is, one who supported the right of women to vote, and not a suffragette, one who would go so far as to break the law in support of that principal); teaching in a one-room school in South Dakota; the unalleviated heat of summer and the other discomforts of the Gaslight Era.
She also recalled receiving a note of congratulations from Richard M. Nixon on her 90th birthday and that she had sent him a reply.
"I noted that Mr. Nixon and I both have the same Quaker Republican background and I hoped he would become as good a Democrate as I had" she said. "You know," she added with a smile, "I don't think I'll live to see that."
She said she preferred to speak of the present.
"I find it very hard to talk about the past when the present is so lively and interesting," she said. "But there is one thing that I cannot be reconciled to today -- the costumes, the customs, the lack of courtesy in the world."
Mrs. Fairbank made it clear that by "courtesy" she meant more than mere good manners. For her, courtesy meant treating others with respect -- in short, as individuals.
Mrs. Fairbank was born in Hampton, Iowa. She grew up in Chamberlain, S.D., a town which was established by her father, who was a lawyer. It was located next to a Sioux Indian reservation and among the people she met there was the war chief Crazy Horse, who was present at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the engagement in which Gen. George Armstrong Custer was massacred in 1876.
When she was 18, she made an extended visit to Washington with her father, who was settling Indian land claims. It was then that she attended a ball in the White House. It was 1893 and Grover Cleveland was just starting his second term.
"It was so exciting -- the chandeliers, the music, and lights, the colors," Mrs. Fairbank said. She said that Sen. Pettigrew of South Dakota, who excorted her, "kept mumbling 'humbug."
"We met the president, and I was so amazed -- we were a Republican family -- that he was a gentleman, that Democrat who had closed the Sioux reservation."
Mrs. Fairbank taught in a one-room school in South Dakota after her retrun there from Washington. She later graduated from the University of Chicago and founded the South Dakota chapter of the American Associaiton of University Women.
Her husband, Aruthur Boyce Fairbank, died in 1936. Mrs. Fairbank moved to Washington from Sioux Falls, S.D., in 1944 to live with her son, John King Fairbank, a noted expert on China and the chairman of the Council on East Asian Studies at Harvard University, who was here doing war work. She remained active there until her death.
In addition to her son, of Cambridge, Mass,. Mrs. Fairbanks' survivors include two grandchildren.
The family suggests the expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Associaiton of University Women Education Foundation for the Lorena King Fairbank Fellowship Endowment, Washington.