Recollections on the recent loss of some of FAIR’s fine friends

I don’t often have the chance to mention FAIR’s many special friends, but now is a good time to mention a few. Late 2013 and early 2014 was a period of unusual loss for FAIR, as we saw so many close friends pass into the next world. A brief sweep of who they are – their talents, gifts, and varied interests – reveals just how special the constellation of FAIR supporters has been and continues to be. These are people who simply can never be replaced.

Max Thelen, Jr.:  Max passed away earlier this year after many years of service both on FAIR’s Board of Directors and National Board of Advisors. I first met Max in San Francisco as a result of his life-long work in global and U.S. population policy research and activism. Max was a tireless advocate for responsible immigration policy solutions, applying a level-headed intellectual capacity with a thoughtful sense of what is fair. He was a sincere, caring, and deeply committed member of the environmental community who shared a passion for fairness and honesty in public policy solutions. As a successful practicing attorney and World War II veteran, Max cared deeply about our country and its historic support for the rule of law; while being engaged internationally as an active participant in the World Affairs Council.  We will all miss him so very much.

Joyce Tarnow:  I’m not sure I ever met anyone quite like Joyce Tarnow. Joyce was one of those rare individuals who carried her activism seamlessly from the most local of concerns to the broad national and global horizon. To know Joyce was to know a force of nature; a person flawlessly prepared to make supremely effective arguments with uncompromising force. A devoted and tireless member of FAIR’s National Advisory Board, Joyce rarely missed a meeting in twenty years.  She was a Florida environmental activist who took her passion for women’s issues, conservation, responsible growth policies, water scarcity, development limits, and population stabilization with uncompromising directness and zeal. Joyce helped found Floridians for Sustainable Population and, later, Floridians for Immigration Enforcement (FLIMEN).  She was the kind of fearless advocate that couldn’t help but accomplish great things. Joyce did those and so much more.  We lost Joyce in early 2014.

Robert W. Wilson was a wonderful friend to FAIR for over 25 years, and many FAIR members will remember the “Robert Wilson Matching Grant” program we’ve had for the past six years. I had the pleasure of getting to know what I and many others have called a great man. Like many others who’ve supported FAIR over the years, Bob was intelligent, forward thinking, and courageous. Unafraid of candor or controversy, Bob understood that chance favors the mind willing to take a risk (his maverick investment style was characteristic of someone who, undeterred by losses, could always be counted on to make up the difference and a whole lot more). In our conversations, it was clear to me that Bob Wilson understood what makes a civilization succeed and what makes a nation successful. He knew that for the United States, a commitment to excellence could only be realized with an immigration policy that assured the nation would be competitive over time. Bob Wilson inspired many as he devoted countless hours and hundreds of millions of dollars to a wide range of causes including The Nature Conservancy, historic preservation, and the New York Public Library. Stewardship of our nation’s resources and investment in our children’s education are what defined this important FAIR supporter. I was privileged to get to know this man very well, and I can tell you he defined what is special about those who care about our cause.

These three supporters are emblematic of the great minds and souls that have stood behind FAIR and what we are trying to achieve. They join a growing list of distinguished Americans who have understood why the cause of true immigration management, limits, and controls is essential to all we seek to achieve for our posterity.


About Author


Dan is the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s President after joining the organization in 1982. He has testified more than 50 times before Congress, and been cited in the media as "America's best-known immigration reformer." Dan has appeared on virtually every significant TV and radio news/talk program in America and, in addition to being a contributing editor to, has contributed commentaries to a vast number of print media outlets.


  1. avatar

    Thanks for taking time to remember and tell the story of these three patriots who fought for what they believed and wanted what was best for their nation. These individuals not only were concerned about real immigration reform…….. they got off the couch and took action.
    -Ron Woodard

  2. avatar
    Barbara Griffith on

    A year or so ago I was reading a article about global warming and I left a comment about what will happen to the populations that live along rivers that supply water for farming and drinking if these third world countries snow packs and glaciers melt and the snow stops falling in the winter in the mountains? You know what happened? My comment was removed the next day because I checked it. These countries don’t have any answers to a question like that because they don’t want to think about it. Well the western states in the US has to think about because they are in that situation right now. A lot of the ranchers have had to sell most of their herds because they can’t feed them that’s why beef prices are sky high and food prices are going up every week. And the fools in congress want to add millions more legal immigrants to this already overloaded country. The folks that passed on were environmentalists that had the foresight to see what could happen.

    • avatar

      Yes Barbara

      Overpopulation has caused much American ownership of our farms passed on to the foreigners too, as they buy up our land. They want corn in gas not to save oil [alcohol uses more oil than straight gas]….but to gouge us for corn grain to livestock…..then expect farm subsidies for the higher meat prices, as a result.

  3. avatar

    These people are the true environmentalists, unlike the phonies at the Sierra Club, because they recognized that endless population growth driven by immigration is the worst thing for our natural ecosystems.

    A new article in Harper’s magazine addresses the drought in the southwest and noted that the Colorado River is at it’s lowest level since the 9th century. While it mentions population doubling in the area by 2060, it does not point out the effects of immigration causing a large part of the increase. Because we can’t speak the truth.