They planned to stay four or five years.
Decades later, Jim and Anne Fairchild have woven themselves with multi-colored thread into the fabric of the Dallas community.
Jim Fairchild was lured to Dallas by a teaching job at Dallas High School.
Not only did he stay more than 30 years, teaching generations of Dallas children, he single-handedly developed the Dallas High speech and debate team into a top competitor in its conference.
He was also an athletic coach, "taking young people to the athletic fields, where they learned so much about themselves and others in the rain, mud and on those long bus trips to ball games in cities large and small throughout our state," said Independence Mayor John McArdle in presenting the award.
But McArdle knows Fairchild in another capacity, far removed from those days at Dallas High. After retiring from teaching, Fairchild entered the political arena, winning a race for mayor in 2000.
"Jim is a wonderful ambassador and representative of your whole community," McArdle said. "More than a few newly-elected mayors have joined Jim and others around the barbecue in Jim's backyard talking about how they could help their city.
"Just as he did as a teacher, Jim is always mentoring, helping and encouraging others as they work to find success in their community."
For more than 20 years, Fairchild has served as a volunteer firefighter in Dallas in addition to numerous roles of service to nonprofits throughout the city.
"Jim, with his worker hat on, helped get everything organized for the Rotary's installation of the underground sprinklers for the soccer field next to the aquatic center," McArdle said.
"Then he got in the hole with all the Rotary volunteers, digging, gluing pipe, filling holes. His hard work inspired others. We worked so hard people came by and asked if we were a prison work crew, but we got the job done."
"I am so honored and deeply touched by this fine award," said Fairchild as he accepted his plaque. "But it's the people of Dallas who are special."