Paul B. Fay

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Paul B. Fay
Paul B Fay, aboard USS PTF-3
Paul Burgess Fay Jr.

July 8, 1918
DiedSeptember 23, 2009
NationalityUnited States
Spouse(s)Anita Fay

Paul Burgess Fay Jr. (8 July 1918, San Francisco, California – 23 September 2009 Woodside, California), was the Acting United States Secretary of the Navy in November 1963, and a close confidant of President John F. Kennedy.


Paul B. Fay Jr was born on July 8, 1918, in the City of San Francisco, County of San Francisco, California to Paul B. Fay Sr (1884-1970) and his wife, Katherine Oliver Fay (1887-1980).[1] Fay Jr attended The Thacher School in Ojai, California,[2] and later Stanford University. After graduating from Stanford in 1941, Fay worked for his father's construction firm, Fay Improvement Co,[2] a Bay-area paving contractor, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Fay attended Officer Candidate School and was assigned to PT boat training at Melville, Rhode Island,[2] where John F. Kennedy was his instructor. They were assigned to the same base in the South Pacific, though they were not on the same boat. Fay received a Bronze Star during his war service as second in command of PT 167 during which the boat was disabled by a torpedo that was dropped by a Japanese plane, piercing the hull below the water line but failing to explode. [3]

After his war service, Fay returned to the United States and rejoined his father's company. On 5 October 1946, he married Anita Marcus of Mill Valley, California. They had 3 children: Katherine Fay, Paul Fay III, and Sally Fay Cottingham.[4]

Paul Fay and Kennedy became close friends, and Fay worked on Kennedy's early campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and also on his campaign for U.S. President. Paul Fay was an usher at JFK's wedding.[5]

On Kennedy's election as President, Fay was nominated and served as Undersecretary of the Navy over the objections of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara[3] and then as Acting Secretary of the Navy in November 1963 while Kennedy was U.S. President. He resigned effective November 28, 1963, following Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963; however he remained undersecretary of the Navy until 1965.[5]

In 1966, he wrote the best-seller The Pleasure of His Company about Kennedy.

The Fay Improvement Company was sold in 1967 and Fay founded William Hutchinson & Co, an investment research firm. He was a director of Vestaur Securities and First American Financial, and was a Trustee of the Naval War College Foundation and of Mount St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth of San Francisco.[2]

Personal life[edit]

After suffering from Alzheimer's disease for many years, Paul Burgess Fay Jr died at his home in Woodside, California on September 23, 2009.[2] Fay Jr was buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California which is located in San Mateo County, California.[1] He was survived by his wife of 62 years, Anita Fay, and his three children: Paul Fay III, Katherine Fay, and Sally Fay Cottingham.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c d e "JFK-friend Paul 'Red' Fay dies in Woodside". The Menlo Park Almanac. 25 September 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  3. ^ a b Holley, Joe (30 September 2009). "Paul B. Fay Jr., 91 Friend to JFK in War and in Washington". Washington Post. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  4. ^ JFK Library profile of Fay. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  5. ^ a b c Nolte, Carl (28 September 2009). "Paul Fay - ex-Navy official, JFK friend - dies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
  6. ^ "Sarah Fay Weds W. S. Cottingham". The New York Times. October 9, 1983. Sarah Symington Fay, daughter of Paul Burgess Fay Jr. and Anita Marcus Fay, both of San Francisco, was married yesterday to William Stuart Cottingham, son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Sherwin Cottingham of Montreal. The Rev. George L. Thomas performed the ceremony in Our Lady of the Wayside Roman Catholic Church in Woodside, Calif., assisted by the Rev. Jack Shriver, a Presbyterian minister
Government offices
Preceded by
Fred A. Bantz
Under Secretary of the Navy
February 16, 1961 – January 15, 1965
Succeeded by
Kenneth E. BeLieu
Preceded by
Fred Korth
United States Secretary of the Navy (acting)
November 2, 1963 – November 28, 1963
Succeeded by
Paul H. Nitze