Loyal. Strong. Reliable. That’s how Brad Ruszala and close friends will remember the late Jerry Facey, who recently passed away at 81. Facey is survived by his wife Irene, and children John Paul, Jerene and Jeanette.
The cause of his death was not confirmed as of press time yesterday, but independent sources state that Facey has been in the hospital since last month and was not able to see or speak to family members due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Facey has lived in Micronesia, including Saipan, for 40 years before moving to Gilbert, Arizona where he spent his last months. On Saipan, Facey created Facey Farms in 1974, which had a total of nine houses on the premises. In an email to Saipan Tribune last May 14, Facey said: “Being a long-time resident, I still follow the local news and keep in touch with dear friends on Saipan. My heart goes out to everyone that is struggling as we face challenging times with this pandemic. We all will certainly endure this challenge and come back stronger than ever.”
When reached for comments, Ruszala, who heads the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, described Facey as a “bright light, outshone only by the light of his wife, Irene. He was kind, welcoming, fun, loyal, strong, reliable, and everything you’d want to have in a father, husband, or friend.”
Ruszala said he looked to Facey as an example of how to be a father and a husband. In fact, the Facey couple were Ruszala and his wife Kathy’s godparents at their wedding.
Ruszala will remember Facey as a good man who taught him a lot by way of advice and example. Ruszala said he and his family are thankful to have earned Facey’s friendship.
“I’ll never forget the way his face lit up when we bumped into one another around town or when he returned to Saipan for a visit,” said Ruszala. “He somehow even kept that smile when our kids crawled over him whenever we met over dinner. We’re all going to miss him.”
Richard Sikkel, who moved to Saipan nearly 20 years ago and has taken over Facey Farms, first met Facey when Sikkel wanted to live on Facey Farms. “When we first moved to the island nearly 20 years ago, we found Facey Farm and knew instantly that was where we wanted to live. I called Jerry and told him we wanted to move into the next available unit. He was a bit taken aback and suggested we meet first before making a commitment,” said Sikkel.
According to Sikkel, it was important for Facey that the spirit of the farm be preserved and would keep its name. Which then made it possible for Sikkel to take over the farm when Facey and his wife Irene moved off-island.
“Over the years Jerry made it a point to check in on how things were at the farm and I would joke about renaming the place,” said Sikkel. “When we took down the sign for maintenance, he was on the phone the next day asking why the sign was gone.”
Sikkel stated that Facey’s spirit, generosity, and his big heart will be missed by his family, and that he feels very fortunate to call Facey Farms home.