BENTON TWP. — Giving.
That is how friends and acquaintances of Harry Faux and his late wife Katie describe the Fleetville couple.
“Harry is one of those people who would give you the shirt off his back, even if he had his last shirt on him,” said Fleetville Volunteer Fire Company Chief Tony Saxton. “He is very involved in the community. …He’s always helping people out.”
Harry is a member and past president of the fire company and Katie was a member of the ladies auxiliary. Area children know them best as Santa and Mrs. Claus for their involvement over the past four years with the municipality’s annual tree lighting and supper with Santa event. Katie also played the role of the Easter Bunny during the company’s annual breakfast with the bunny. And they served as summer campground hosts at the Lackawanna State Park.
Indeed, both have given much to their community.
But now it is Harry’s turn to be on the receiving end of things.
A sudden illness claimed Katie’s life on Christmas day – an irony not lost on the community. With no life insurance, the widower, retiree and part-time township maintenance employee was left with many medical and funeral expenses.
Which is why the fire company is hosting a spaghetti and meatball supper fundraiser on his behalf on Saturday, Jan. 27.
Tickets for the dinner are $9 and can be purchased in advance at the B&B Restaurant, CJ’s Deli and Country Cuts in Fleetville or at the door until sold out. Take-outs will be available from 4:30 to 5 p.m. and eat-ins are welcome from 5 p.m. until sold out. The event will also feature raffle baskets and a bake sale.
Accustomed to volunteering his time at such events for other people, Harry said this is the first time anyone has done something like this for him.
“I would just like to thank everybody for the support, and especially Michelle Ross (event organizer) – she’s done a great job,” he said.
Ross, who is also a fire company member and organizer of the Christmas event, spoke highly of the couple. She remembers Katie for her “super sweet” personality and penchant for all things pink, such as the “bubble gum pink” convertible she drove.
“That was her signature color,” Ross said. “She was just a really sweet lady.”
“Harry’s always that kind of a guy who, when you need something, he just says ‘yes,’” she said. “He figures it out, or he does his best within his means.”
She recalled the couple’s love for children, evidenced by the sparkles in their eyes while playing the part of Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Harry confirmed the joy he and his late wife got out of the roles, one instance in particular standing out in his memory.
“I had one little girl come up to me – she was probably about 7 or 8 years old – and I said, ‘What do you want for Christmas,’ and she said, ‘All I want for Christmas is for everybody to get whatever they want for Christmas.’ That floored me; I didn’t know what to say.”
He added Katie was especially good at comforting the little ones who were afraid of Santa.
“She was really good with kids,” he said.
Katie’s own son and Harry’s step-son, Brian Oslin, 39, of Factoryville, died in June. Although still grieving from their loss, according to Ross, the couple was still eager to play the roles of Santa and Mrs. Claus this past Christmas, which they did, shortly before Katie took ill.
“Katie was, as always, the sparkle to the event,” Ross said.