- Ada, Oklahoma

December 14, 2013

Organizations benefit from Farnham Trust donations

Art Lawler Staff Writer

Ada — A young woman attending East Central University in the early 1950s, met a young man at the school and married him. Together, they started a familly.

Many people have benefitted ever since.  

The generosity of Jerry and Mamie Farnham to Ada and the surrounding area was plainly visible Thursday when six different organizations shared a $627,600 gift courtesy of the Farnum Family Trust.

Dispersals in the amount of $104,600 each were made at the ECU Chickasaw Business and Conference Center Strategic Learning Room to the following recipients:

• Mary Ruth Barnes, director of Planned Giving, Oklahoma and SW Missouri, American Cancer Society. She called Farnham a woman of great energy and compassion, especially in the fight against cancer.

• David Polk, Southeast Area manager, Baptist Village Communities. “Mamie was a wonderful lady who loved God and served others,” Polk said, adding that her support of the Baptist Village honored God and provided services to enhance lives.

• Douglas Crowson, senior district executive, Boy Scouts of America. “The Farnham Fund will help further scouting in the Ada area. We will be providing  scholarships to families who may need help attending our camps,” he said.

• Phyllis Danley, executive director, ECU Foundation, Inc. “Mamie and Jerry Farnham were staples in the Ada community, and with this gift from Mamie’s estate, their love of life and desire to hep others will be remembered indefinitely,” she said. Danley quoted a student who had been a recipient of the Farnham scholarship: “Your generosity has inspired me and I hope one day that I will be able to help students reach their goals, just as you have helped me.”

• Todd Essary, director, Mercy Health Foundation Ada. “She cared deeply about enhancing the quality of life for those in the community. This wonderful gift will make a difference in the quality of life for those we serve, their families and their loved ones into the future.”

• Garry Odom, divisional director of Service Extension, The Salvation Army. “The Salvation Army will continue doing the most good through the generosity of our wonderful donors like the Farnhams,” he said in a prepared statement.

• Keith  Biggers with the Salvation Army also made similar remarks while accepting the check for that organization.

All promised to put the money to use helping improve the lives of people in their respective areas.

Longtime Ada residents will remember Jerry Farnham who served as financial director of the City of Ada for 24 years.

He passed away on April 28, 2006 at age 73.

His wife, Mamie Farnham, died at age 79 on Aug. 12, 2012.  

For 30 years  Mamie was director of the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce.

Roger Gaddis, who served as Mamie Farnham’s financial advisor at the time of her death and who was responsible for the dispersal of those funds, introduced the recipients. He and his wife, Leigh Gaddis, are co-founders of Gaddis & Gaddis Wealth Management, which sponsored ceremony.

To Roger Gaddis, Mamie Farnham will always be a special person who frankly had little interest in financial wealth.

Though the Farnham children were not able to attend the event, Dr. Peggy Farnham sent the following statement:

“On behalf of my father and mother — Jerry and Mamie Farnham — and my family, including my brother, Mark Farnham, my husband, Dr. Charles Nicolet, and our daughter, Emily Nicolet, I am grateful for the opportunity to acknowledge this distribution of the Farnham Family Trust funds to the six institutions that have meant so much to my father and mother and the Farnham family.”

She is the professor and William M. Keck Chair in biochemistry and an associate dean for Graduate Affairs for Keck School of Medicine in California.

Before commenting on his personal friendship with Mamie Farnham, Roger Gaddis said, “I need to emphasize, these gifts are from the entire family. Mamie cared about people, not money. She wanted to enhance the lives of other people,” Gaddis said.

She sold her home long before she had to in an effort to simplify her life and became a go-to person at the Baptist Village.

“She sold it at bargain prices,” Gaddis said, explaining how she downsized her life after her husband’s death.

“She was a wonderful lady,” said campus director Tracy Sheer. “She loved Ada. She met her husband at East Central and they decided to make Ada their home.”

The couple was known for working tirelessly in the community. They were members of the Ada Hobo Club which was made up of recreational vehicle owners who got together for trips and social gatherings.

“She never came in worried about the market or her investments,” Roger Gaddis said. “She just didn’t live her life around money. She just wanted to do things for others with her remaining time. That’s pretty unusual.”