100 Years

The family celebrating at the Alamo

Our organization is 100 years old, and so is a special member!  Fayrene Balin recently celebrated her 100th birthday–on Texas Independence Day!  The San Antonio Express News featured her as well and Gov. Abbot presented her with a proclamation. A few things to know about Mrs. Balin

Fayrene Timm Balin 

  • Born Fayrene Elizabeth Timm to Charles Finley and Mary Louise Timm in Yoakum, Texas on March 2, 1921 – Texas Independence Day! 
  • Her father was the brakeman on the Southern Pacific train whose “Old 794” engine was originally retired to Maverick Park fronting Broadway, and now is displayed at Sunset Station. 
  • The family moved to San Antonio when Fayrene was still young and they lived in San Antonio during the Great Depression.   
  • Their house was “marked” by the homeless, and  Fayrene was told by her mother that if anyone knocked at the door asking for food, to have them wait outside and to go cook them an egg sandwich!  That may be where she developed her talent for cooking – Fayrene became a fantastic cook! 
  • She graduated from Brackenridge High School, Class of 1938, and was a duchess in the Yoakum Tom-Tom Festival in the early days of the event (1938). 
  • Fayrene married Arnold Beyeler of Ithaca, NY, when she was nineteen years old.  Arnold was a graduate of West Point and the Advanced Flying School of Kelly Field (San Antonio) when he married Fayrene. Upon their marriage, they moved to Miami, FL, where Arnold was a pilot with Pan Am Airlines, then serving with the U.S. Army Air Corps at the beginning of WWII.  He was among a group of pilots shuttling planes from Brazil to North Africa as part of the war effort when he went missing-in-action along with his navigator.  Fayrene was only twenty-one at the time she became a widow. 
  • After Arnold’s death, Fayrene returned home with her parents to San Antonio, where she completed her bachelor’s degree at Incarnate Word College (now the University of the Incarnate Word). 
  • Ten years after losing Arnold, she married Henry “Hank” Balin, who was in the United States Air Force.  Upon their marriage, they moved to Fontainebleau, France, just south of Paris, where Hank was stationed at NATO Headquarters.  Hank and Fayrene’s first child, Tim, was born there. 
  • They lived in Fontainebleau for three years and made many lifelong international friends, including a member of the Royal Dutch Air Force and his wife who was held prisoner-of-war by the Japanese throughout World War II and another military wife who had been a decorated member of the French Resistance.   
  • Following their return to the States, Hank was stationed for another three years at Langley Field, Virginia, where their second child, Donna, was born. 
  • The couple then returned to Fayrene’s home base in San Antonio when Hank became stationed at Randolph Air Force Base.  Hank’s next career at Southwest Research Institute enabled their family to permanently remain in San Antonio.   
  • They raised their children in the Alamo Heights Independent School District where Fayrene also became a 20-year teacher at Robbins Elementary and later Woodridge Elementary School.  She taught second grade, and also developed a first-to-sixth grade science program with another teacher at Robbins that received a state award.   
  • Hank passed away in 1993 after nearly forty years of marriage.  Three years after Hank’s death, Fayrene met Charles Fraser at a seniors’ exercise class and they dated for seventeen years until he passed away in 2014.  In keeping with the Texas tradition, Charlie grew up in San Geronimo and was a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas.   
  • Charlie and Fayrene  traveled on road trips around the United States and on cruises to Argentina and Chili, through the Panama Canal, throughout Scandinavia, Russia, and along the coast of Alaska.  They belonged to four different dance groups and continued their exercise classes together three times a week until Fayrene suffered a stroke when she was 87.   
  • Fayrene’s son, Tim, retired last year from a 36-year career as a pilot with Southwest Airlines; her daughter, Donna, received her Ph.D. from Cambridge, UK, and is a geologist living in San Antonio.  Fayrene has a grandson and a granddaughter, and she is a great-grandmother of two girls, ages three and one. 
  • The stroke affected Fayrene’s speech and her mobility on her right side, but she remains sharp-minded and still loves life.  She manages to communicate well with those who know her.   
  • Her daughter describes her as “an oasis” – you walk in, and she’s sunny and bright and cheerful.  She still likes to get up and dress nicely, put on make-up, and looks forward to the day.  Her speech is very limited, but she frequently verbalizes two phrases – “Thank you” and “I love you”, which tells you a lot about her nature.   
  • Her strong, quiet faith is a big part of her character, and she continues to radiate the humor, love, and acceptance that she has shown for a lifetime.  
  • In addition being a member of the State Association of Texas Pioneers, Fayrene is a 30 year member of the DRT Alamo Mission Chapter. 

The Proclamation by Gov. Greg Abbot

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