Mary Elizabeth Farnham, West Des Moines, IA/formerly Janesville, WI (1932-2013)
July 6, 1932 - December 29, 2013
Mary Elizabeth Farnham, born July 6, 1932, in Miami, MO, the fourth of 10 children of Fannie and Leonard Walker, graduated from the small high school of Napton, MO. She passed away Dec. 29, at UnityPoint Health Des Moines Methodist. She married Stanley Everett Farnham Sept. 27, 1951, in Marshall, MO, when he returned from U.S. Army basic training. Mary returned to Marshall, then joined her husband after OCS (officer candidate school) at Ft. Benning, and jump school. The next assignment was Fort Campbell, KY, where their first son was born. She, again, returned to Marshall, when her husband went overseas. After the war was over, they settled in Kansas City, MO, where he worked as an engineer with Westinghouse while attending school at night. Mary managed the house and two children with the arrival of Linda in 1955. In 1957, the family moved to Des Moines, and the first event was the birth of Tim. Marlene followed in 1958, Mike in 1961 and Greg in 1962. Mary had her hands full with six children. Yet, she found time to be a delegate to the Republican State Convention, to have an AFS student from Brazil for a year and to lead girl scout and cub scout packs. Managing the house and six children was a full-time job. The six children all were at her bedside when she died: John Steven (Sherry) Farnham of Austin, TX; Linda (Mike) Colby of West Des Moines; Timothy Everett (Pam) Farnham of Wichita, KS; Marlene (Steve) Bysted of Janesville, WI, Michael Romeyn (Sue) Farnham of Madison, WI; and Gregory David Farnham of Sunnyvale, CA. She had 13 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren.
Moving to Janesville, WI, in 1972, Mary became the first female in the Sears Appliance department; and for a time worked for Joann Fabrics. She owned and operated a computer software store. She also served as President of the Janesville Republican Women and the YWCA Board. In 1981, Stan was promoted to general manager and for the next decade Mary traveled with him extensively in the U. S. and around the world. In 1990, during a decade of doing corporate turnarounds, ultimately turning around five companies. Mary supported and was involved in this high stress effort.
In 1998, they moved to Florida, and then built a home on a lake in Naples, in 2002, where Mary founded and was Queen of Waterways Red Hatters for 10 years and led water aerobics. She also was on the Naples Queen’s Council, an organization of more than 50 chapters. She traveled with her husband, as partner, 5,000 miles a year (in Florida) for the five years as President of the Florida Lighthouse Association, visiting the 30 lighthouses in Florida many times and attending meetings.
Mary was the most beautiful woman, inside and out. Never a bad word about anyone. She saw good in everyone. She and her husband moved to the Lodge of Ashworth, West Des Moines, one year ago where she was active in many events.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, at VALLEY CHURCH, 4343 Fuller Dr., in West Des Moines. HAMILTON'S FUNERAL HOME is assisting the family.