Donald Saul Gair, 96, died at home in Arlington Thursday, July 8, this past week with his family at his side.
Married for 68 years, Donald and Joyce Rae Moon Gair, his partner in all that they created together, raised Nancy, Jane, and Peter and helped them and their spouses, Bill Champion, Keith Prairie and Wendy Muello, raise their six children, Jonathan and William Champion, Everett Prairie, and Nora, Molly, and Nathan Gair. All will miss Donald but hold forever his love and wisdom in their hearts.
Donald was born in New York City January 25, 1925, foretold by a solar eclipse (important family lore), to Mollie nee Arginteanu and Harry A. Gair. Donald and his beloved sister Barbara Gair Scheiber of Rockville, Maryland, who passed away in March at age 99, grew up in a family that prized words and stories and theater, arts, music, travel, and the outdoors and active participation in different areas supporting those in difficulty. Harry was a noted plaintiff’s attorney; Mollie a clinical psychologist; Barbara an author and vigorous advocate for disabled children; Donald a physician and child psychiatrist. Along with his loving stepmother Harriet Rosenberg Gair, who became a partner in the Gair & Gair law firm and a Putnam County Judge, came brothers Elwood Gair, and a bit later twins Roger and Anthony Gair, each crucial keys to Donald’s learning about being a good big brother.
Family and lore, perhaps, led Donald to a vision as a very young child. In the sky he saw a large business card:
Donald Saul Gair
All Questions Asked – & Answered.
Maybe to that end and to fulfill his four-year-old self’s declaration to become a doctor, Donald became Dr. Gair in 1950 at Harvard Medical School, a crucible of wonder for him and his many lifelong schoolmates, after attending Harvard, serving as Lt., J.G., in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and graduating from Harvard University in 1945 as a proud alumnus and member of the Signet Society.
His career as a physician and psychiatrist specializing in child and adolescent care spanned over 70 years and featured the training of generations of those who became peers in his field.
Donald did his medical internship at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, his psychiatry residency at Boston Psychopathic with neurology at Queens Square in London as well as a child psychiatry fellowship at Mass Mental Health Center (renamed from the Psycho). Along with his private practice, he became Clinical Director and then Superintendent of the Gaebler Children’s Center for under 16-year-olds, after leading the struggle to keep it open by designating it a state hospital. During that time he was appointed Chair of the Dept. of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, consulting and teaching and supervising there after his retirement from BUSM. He reluctantly retired from his private practice in 2017.
Donald cherished teaching (recalling always that teacher in Latin is doctor) and supervision. His goal, if he had a first lecture to medical students, was for everyone to become child psychiatrists, to join him in his calling.
At the onset of his medical training, Donald began the far more important study of courting and harmonious relating and living as he met, proposed to, and got fortunately married to the vivacious Joyce Rae Moon, R.N., of Bangor, Maine, who, we believe, agreed to but on a trial basis, which successfully went Donald’s – and all our – way.
Some of his greatest joys were travel with his family especially with his wife Joyce. At their camp on Mousam Lake in Maine and in Virgin Gorda, BVI, long-time friends and new also became family sharing in birthdays, boating, and years-long conversation. All such travel and stays included singing and harmonizing often with plucked and struck strings and brass.
Surviving Donald are his wife Joyce, their three children and their spouses Peter Gair and Wendy Muello, M.D., Jane and Keith Prairie, Nancy Gair and Bill Champion; grandchildren Nathan, Molly, and Nora Gair; Everett Prairie; William and Jonathan Champion; his brothers Elwood Gair and Anthony Gair, an attorney at Gair, Gair, Conason, et al.; and many dearly loved nieces and nephews (including grands and great grands).
His sister Barbara Scheiber and brother Roger Gair predeceased him.
Donald and all his family want to thank the support from hospice and the lovely care from his 24/7 helpers which allowed him to be comfortable at home.
Burial will be private. In due course a memorial service will be planned to allow for a longer get-together and good-bye.
Please, if interested, see Dr. Gair’s brief reflections on parts of his ever-growing care for the field of his calling and those it served. In it is one of his powerful aphorisms (since continually worked on), “Truth is the fragile child of skepticism. Dogma the brutal spawn of certainty.” (Gair 1988).
Donald Saul Gair – January 25th, 1925, NYC, NY – July 8th, 2021, Arlington, MA