Richard R. Fay ’66

Richard R. Fay ’66 died on September 1, 2022, in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

(The following was provided by The Enterprise on September 16, 2022)

Richard R. Fay of Falmouth, whose research focus was the hearing of vertebrates, died September 1 at Cape Cod Hospital. Dr. Fay was 78.

A distinguished professor of psychology and neuroscience at Loyola University in Chicago, he joined the faculty in 1974 and remained until his retirement in 2011. He was a member of the Parmly Hearing Institute of Chicago, where he conducted much of his research in hearing, and also served as the director of The Parmly Hearing Institute Chicago for more than ten years.

Locally Dr. Fay spent twenty-one years at the Marine Biological Laboratory, working here as a summer scientist from 1991 to 2012. He collaborated with his senior scientists in the Whitman Building on research investigating the capabilities of the auditory system of the oyster toadfish. Their work was the first to reveal a circuit for determining sound source direction in fish.

Born in Holden and raised in Sterling, he was the son of Charles R. Fay and Ingrid Tellefsen Fay. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1966 and received a PhD in psychology from Princeton University in 1970.

After graduation, Dr. Fay worked with Nobel Prize winner Georg von Békésy at the Laboratory of Sensory Sciences at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. It was here that he began his lifelong career of researching hearing in vertebrates.

During his time working in Illinois he lived in Winnetka and Chicago.

A member of the Acoustical Society of America for more than fifty years, Dr. Fay also had an ASA Silver Medal in bioacoustics; served as chairman of the Animal Bioacoustics Technical Committee; and was associate editor of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

He was the series editor along with a lifelong research collaborator of more than 80 Springer-Verlag books highlighting the expertise of scientists contributing to analyzing animal and human hearing.

His contributions include more than two hundred publications and many books with a focus on comparative aspects of hearing that span fishes to mammals. One of his notable books is Hearing in Vertebrates: A Psychophysics Databook, published in 1988, which continues today as a valuable resource and comprehensive reference book on hearing across vertebrate species.

He was also known for his book Hot Dog Chicago: A Native’s Dining Guide, written with a Loyola University colleague in 1983. It later developed into a documentary film, “Red Hot Chicago,” which won a CLIO Award.

While taking the summer course Neural Systems and Behavior at the MBL in 1989, Dr. Fay’s classmates bestowed The “WURST” Award upon him for their appreciation of his sharing his interest in hot dogs.

Aside from science, his interests were skiing, boating, modern art and jazz.

He enjoyed sailing his Cape dory in the waters of Woods Hole; and boating and canoeing at his family-owned summer home at Birch Island on Kezar Lake in Lovell, Maine, where he had spent part of every summer of his life since the age of two.

He had a passion for art, especially the Modernists, and built an extensive art library in his home. While perusing his art collection most nights, he listened to jazz music.

He leaves his wife of fifty-four years, Catherine Hill Fay, a Falmouth native; two children, Christian Fay and Amanda Fay and her husband, Luis Sierra; his grandchildren, Nathanial Fay, Evan Fay, Stella Fay, and Sebastian Sierra Fay; and his brother, Chapin Fay of Garden City, New York.

He was preceded in death by his older brother, Carl Robert Fay.

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