Thursday, January 14, 2010
Well-known Wichita businessman George Fahnestock was found dead in his home east of Wichita Thursday. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's office said Fahnestock died of an apparent gunshot wound. Investigators do not suspect foul play.
Fahnestock's funeral has been set for Tuesday, January 19th at 10 a.m. at the Church of the Magdalen at 12626 East 21st Street in Wichita.
Fahnestock was 62-years-old.
The Chairman of Fahnestock Heating & Air was well-known for his tireless work with community groups. He served as chairman of the Lord's Diner, and was also heavily involved with Goodwill, the Kansas Humane Society, Wichita State University and many others.
Fahnestock was among Wichita’s most prominent and influential businessmen.
He helped lead the recent campaign by USD 259 to pass a $370 million bond issue. He also was among the primary boosters behind the effort for a downtown arena.
Fahnestock was inducted in 2008 into the Junior Achievement Wichita Hall of Fame. He also was a member of several boards of directors, including the Kansas Humane Society and Diversity Kansas.
His company also is among the largest electrical and mechanical subcontractors in Wichita. It specializes in residential work and has branched into several new trades in recent years, including fireplaces and plumbing.
Fahnestock started the company in 1982.
But his work in the industry started in the 1960s when he worked summers for his father, Ted, at what was then Fahnestock Heating and Air Conditioning. He started working there full time in 1969 after graduating from Wichita State University.
Fahnestock later worked for the Fahnestock Division of Airtron, which was co-founded by his father.
After Airtron was sold in 1979, Fahnestock restarted the family business — Fahnestock Heating and Air Conditioning.
“I miss him terribly already,” says former Cessna Aircraft Co. executive John Moore, who shared a fence with Fahnestock for 15 years.
Moore and Fahnestock were two of the five founding members of the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission, which helped push for what eventually became Intrust Bank Arena.
“He genuinely cared about Wichita,” says Moore, a former Kansas lieutenant governor. “He cared about people who needed some help and was always there to provide it if he could. But he’s a guy who made a contribution that may never really be understood in this community.”
Bob Hanson, president and CEO of the sports commission, said in a statement that Fahnestock’s “leadership, vision and commitment to the betterment of our community were instrumental in the growth and development of the sports commission.”
Wichita School Board member Lynn Rogers says Fahnestock was key to getting the 2008 bond issue passed. For a time, the proposal seemed like a long-shot.
“He was the one who encouraged everyone to keep at it and keep working on the bond issue,” Rogers says. “He just kept the ship steady.”
Rogers says Fahnestock had a passion for helping kids in education.
To learn more about Fahnestock's community involvement, click on related links.
The Wichita Business Journal contributed to this report.