Rick Fawley left an indelible mark on this community, both for his architectural skills and his public service. Professionally, his legacy and vision will stand for generations in the projects he and his business partner in the firm of Fawley/Bryant Architects, Inc., Mike Bryant, accomplished.
Fawley's community activism earned him Leadership Manatee's top alumni award in 2014, the Kent C. Schulz Distinguished Alumni Award. That's no small feat given the organization's long and distinguished list of graduates.
Richard Wesley Fawley passed away on Sept. 2 at the age of 65, peacefully at his Bradenton home, his obituary noted. A celebration of his life will be held Sunday at the South Florida Museum from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Perhaps the most colorful and celebrated of the Fawley/Bryant projects is the $10 million renovation of McKechnie Field, the spring home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the minor league Bradenton Marauders and a historic landmark that will stand for many more decades as a treasured place. The ballpark, with a unique boardwalk and deck arching around the outfield, earned rave reviews upon its debut after Fawley's remarkable revisions.
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Fawley arrived in Bradenton in 1983 from Vermont, opened a private practice in 1985 and merged with Mike Bryant in 1994.
While Fawley's career accomplishments are considerable -- the Manatee County Judicial Center in downtown Bradenton, the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine's School of Dentistry in Lakewood Ranch, and IMG upgrades among them -- his personal ones will also leave a lasting impression on the community.
Fawley's public service speaks of his commitment to people and bettering lives, especially his many years on the board of Goodwill Manasota and his tenure on Manatee Education Foundation, just two of his volunteer efforts on boards and committees in this community.
But he began serving the less fortunate at a young age, volunteering with a University of Cincinnati program that gave architectural guidance to underserved neighborhoods in the city. His work included homeless shelters, health clinics and children's playgrounds, among other projects. An Ohio native, Fawley earned his bachelor's degree from the College of Design Art and Architecture from the University of Cincinnati. True to his nature, he began paying it forward early, as a student.
One of the best and touching comments in Fawley's obituary, as published here in the Herald, simply stated: "He was compassionate and caring and always had a smile." His family and friends will always know him as "an exceptional man who loved life and was known as a friend to all," the authors of his obituary also stated. Anyone who had the pleasure of his company and friendship knows that to be true.
He lost his wife of almost 20 years, Coni, just this past February. They married on Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park, a picturesque show of their mutual fondness for mountaineering, backpacking and hiking. What a unique setting for flatlanders from Florida.
Rick and Coni Fawley's legacy of public "goodwill" will live through a memorial fund being established through Goodwill Manasota. Mike Bryant already pledged a "significant contribution" from the Fawley/Bryant firm to honor his friend and partner and his wife. We hope others step up, too, in remembrance of a man who gave much to his community in both service and spirit.