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:
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.
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.