Remembering Bob Farris

Bob Farris died last month. He passed away in the arms of his beloved wife Linda.

The names may be unfamiliar to Westporters. But when you see their photos, you’ll recognize them instantly:

Linda and Bob Farris, at one of their favorite spots.

Linda and Bob Farris, at one of their favorite spots.

And you’ll know too that “loving partners” doesn’t begin to describe the couple.

They were fixtures at Compo Beach. They walked slowly, Linda supporting her much bigger husband.

Many people did not know their names. But they were a friendly couple, and nearly everyone on the beach stopped and chatted.

Linda did most of the talking. It was difficult for Bob to speak. But he smiled, and engaged you. They were part of what makes Westport — particularly the beach — such a wonderful community.

In his last 3 years, Bob met his challenges with elegance and dignity. That’s no surprise to those who know his back story.

He was a West Point graduate.

But he was no normal cadet. He graduated 1st in his class.

He was a football star. Bob captained the 1954 team. He was a lineman who went both ways. He was blinded in one eye the entire 2nd half of the Navy game, yet never came out.

Bob Farris (left) and an Army teammate, with President Eisenhower at the White House.

Bob Farris (left) and an Army teammate, with President Eisenhower at the White House.

General Douglas MacArthur lauded his play and academic standing. Coach Red Blaik called Bob a leader who instilled the “Will to Win.” On 3 successive Saturdays he was voted national Lineman of the Week.

Bob — an Alabama native — and Linda met at Hebrew University, where Bob was engaged in long-range planning. He loved Jerusalem and Israel. It will be his final resting place.

But Westport was dear to his heart too.

“Bob’s ability to enjoy life was enhanced by the encouragement and support of so many people at the beach,” Linda says.

“Some are friends whose names we know. Others are strangers with whom we shared great conversations. Their smiles and good energy gave Bob the confidence to walk just one more time around the Point.

“Words cannot describe the gratitude we felt then, and which I continue to feel now,” Linda adds. “Compo Beach is where Bob and I spent such happy days. What better place to celebrate his life?”

What better place indeed. All who knew Bob — by sight and smile, if not by name — are invited to a celebration at 10 a.m. this Sunday (June 29, near the west end).

Bob’s West Point classmate Bob Sorley — a noted intelligence analyst and military historian — will speak. An honor guard will honor Bob. Bagpipes will play.

And we’ll all smile — sadly, wistfully, Westport-ily — as we look around and remember Bob. and the beach he and Linda loved.

Greens Farms Elementary School teacher and noted musician Suzanne Sherman Propp wrote and recorded “Holding Hands” in 2009, for a wedding of friends. The beautiful song was inspired by Bob and Linda — and includes a photo of them.


7 responses to “Remembering Bob Farris

  1. mary hoffman

    what a beautiful way to start the week thanks

  2. Thanks for this story. It always brought a smile to my face when I saw Linda and Bob at Compo, though I did not know them. I hope it brings comfort to Linda to know hundreds of people feel that way.

  3. Tom Allen '66

    Thanks, Dan. Back in the day when Army was still a national football power, which it was when Bob Farris starred there, there was a saying, “No one can run on Army.” Bob Farris was one of the main reasons why no one could.

  4. Michael Calise

    Great Story Dan – Every time you saw this couple you just wanted to shout and cheer them on for their obvious and inspiring courage

  5. The love story of Linda and Bob we saw everyday at the beach. Linda with a big smile and a warm hello, and Bob with his big smile and always calling Linda his Princess. On chilly days they made the rounds to Barnes & Noble where my husband Larry would comment to me that he met them there. See you Sunday to help celebrate Bob’s life.

  6. Eldad Cohen

    Since my early childhood, Bob and Linda were my loving aunt and uncle from the great “America”.

    Their visits to Israel excited us very much and the expectation towards each visit, was tremendous.

    When I was 9 years old I visited them in America for the first time, and the visit left a deep impression on me, of people I loved very much in a landscape so different.

    Over the last few years, every chance I had of getting to the area, if only for a few hours, I’d go over to the quiet and amazing Westport, so special, exactly like its residents, in order to visit with my aunt and uncle who always welcomed me with the open arms, warmth and generosity of people who are unique.

    Bob, whom I loved so much, was a rare person, mostly due to his modesty, his serenity and his ability to listen, together with his developed and so intelligent sense of humor.

    All these and much more characterized my uncle Bob.

    For us, having Bob in the family was a great privilege. He has left behind him a wide open space of a man with a big heart who always took care of his “little princess” as he used to call her, his Linda.

    I already miss him very much.