It takes a lot of people to make a Florida Orchestra concert happen. Not all of them are on stage. Meet Diane Fair, an avid orchestra fan and supporter, a Raymond James Pops concert subscriber, and a member of the orchestra’s Amadeus Society since 2013. Without donors like her, TFO would not exist.
Diane has always loved music: “It affects me. I can hear a particular piece and become emotional remembering happy and sad times. My late husband Fred loved music, too. I believe music is a necessity of life.”
We asked Diane a few questions to get to know her better. Here are excerpts:
Where were you born?
I was born in Chicago, but my family relocated to Florida when I was 14 years old. I’m the oldest of four children with two sisters and a brother. Except for a period of eight years, I have resided in St. Petersburg. I had two daughters. My oldest, Jennifer, passed in 2008. My youngest, Juliette, resides in Atlanta with her family. Between the two girls, I am blessed to have three grandsons.
What are some of your earliest memories of Florida?
I remember we went swimming in December off the Gandy Bridge. As a teenager (Northeast High School grad) I enjoyed dancing and recall attending dances at the old YMCA in St. Petersburg and the Gulfport Casino.
Who influenced your life?
I discovered myself through two major influencers – my former boss at Duke Energy (from where she retired) and my husband, Fred. Fred introduced me to a whole new world, which changed me dramatically. I was shy and introverted, and music, entertainment, and hosting social events brought me out of my shell. It made me a stronger, more confident person. He was the love of my life and I miss him terribly (Fred passed away in 2007).
What type of music do you enjoy?
The classics are timeless, of course, but I am a Pops fan. Of the performers on the contemporary music scene, I admire Adele. She has an amazing voice! When I was younger, I was head-over-heels for Johnny Mathis. To this day, I love the old standards with Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Tony Bennett, among others.
What is your involvement with TFO?
A friend invited me to attend a Pops concert. One concert and I was hooked immediately! I am a dedicated supporter of The Florida Orchestra. We are so fortunate to call them “our” orchestra – they are wonderful!
I’m also passionate about The Florida Orchestra Guild (a volunteer group that works to raise awareness and financial support for TFO). I love the Guild and the work that they do! It’s a fine group and I feel welcome there. It’s a big part of my life and it makes me happy to be a member.
How else do you support TFO?
I’m a regular donor to the Annual Fund and have pledged a Legacy Gift. I also recently co-chaired the Golden Baton (a Guild event), which benefitted the orchestra and its many programs.
Any special TFO moments?
I had the opportunity to have dinner with TFO Music Director Michael Francis. In addition to his superior musical talents, Michael has a great personality and is very engaging with the audience. He and his wife, Cindy, are a lovely couple and I had a fun and enjoyable evening —one of my favorite TFO memories. And the Sting gala was fabulous, too!
Photo: Diane Fair with her daughter, Juliette, at TFO’s gala concert with Sting.