Farwell Remembered for the 'Sunshine' He Brought to Lake Forest
Hundreds of mourners gather Saturday to say their last goodbyes to former mayor.
Lake Forest residents said their final good-byes to former Mayor Francis Farwell II over the weekend, in a celebration of the life of a Lake Forest icon.
Despite the weather forecast of a major snowstorm, and the torrential downpour of freezing rain, hundreds of mourners gathered at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest for a memorial service, and later at a reception at the Onwentsia Club to pay tribute to a man who throughout his entire lifetime had loved, and given a tremendous amount of himself to the community.
"Frank's love of Lake Forest was in his genes," said friend, and former Lake Forest College President Eugene Hotchkiss, who spoke in his eulogy of the "sunshine" that Farwell gave to the city.
Farwell's hand print will definitely be seen throughout the city for generations to come, especially in the work he did during his tenure as the mayor of Lake Forest from 1984-1987.
Among them, the 1987 restoration of Lake Forest Beach into the destination it has become for those in the community, and surrounding communities as well.
"The eroded beach of Lake Forest was restored, and is now the envy of neighboring communities," said Hotchkiss, adding the people who have since spent their summers at Lake Forest Beach have "felt the sunshine of Frank's leadership."
Hotchkiss also spoke of Farwell's role in the establishment of CROYA, saying he was determined that Lake Forest provide to teenagers a healthy alternative to the counter culture of the 1980's.
In addition, he played a major role in the founding of Lake Forest's Open Lands Association, believing strongly the city should maintain its open spaces.
"This landmark feature owes deeply to Frank Farwell," Hotchkiss said.
But it was Farwell's family that played the biggest role in Saturday's tribute. His children, grandchildren, sons and daughter in-laws, and close friends participated in the memorial service.
Some read scripture, played and sang music, and gave words of remembrance to Farwell, who they all say was a devoted husband, father and grandfather.
The service even included a musical meditation by the Farwell Hand bell Choir, which consisted of generations of family members paying tribute to their father through music.
His youngest daughter, Edith Farwell, of Heartland, Vt., painted the picture of her father as a man who would leave his house early in the morning to feed their family horses, and would then drop her off at school.
He would later arrive at the Lake Forest train station for his commute to his job as a partner at the William Blair and Co. investment firm in Chicago, many times, with hay on his shoulder.
"It was a perfect example of the two worlds in which he lived, and in which he thrived," recalled Edie.
"I had been so gifted with a special relationship with my father," she added. "To be so appreciated and so seen as a child touched me."
The Farwell family is one of the founding families of Lake Forest. Born in 1922, Farwell attended school in Lake Forest until he went away to the Pomfret School, in Connecticut, and later graduated from Yale University in 1944.
He married Jean Douglas Campbell Farwell on Feb. 17, 1943. Jean passed away in 1999.
In 1958, Farwell joined the board of directors at Lake Forest College, another city institution that he considered vital to the community.
"His passion for the college intermingled with his passion for the community," said Hotchkiss.
The Farwells moved into their family home on Waukegan Road in 1950, and Frank lived there for nearly 60 years until it was demolished by a fire on Dec. 30, 2009.
According to Edie, it was then that Farwell began to think about his own passing, saying in his investor's language, that he began thinking about his "exit strategy."
"As much as we appreciate his financial wisdom, we would much prefer to have him here with us," she said.
"The rays of Frank's sunshine shine deeply in Lake Forest," said Hotchkiss.
That sunshine will continue to shine through the Farwell family window in the sanctuary at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, which features an image of the "angel of victory", and where Farwell sat at church service every Sunday morning.
"It is all of us who sit under the Farwell window now," said Reverend Christine Chaokian. "All of us who sit under the angel of victory."
In addition to Edie, Farwell is survived by Marion Farwell, of Mill Valley, Calif.; Susan Farwell Houston, of Craftsbury Common, Vt.; Francis C. Farwell III, of Marquette, Mich., and eight grandchildren.