Clarence Farmer Sr. was a businessman, public servant and co-founder of the African American Historical & Cultural Museum.
Farmer died on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, at Kearsley Retirement and Nursing Home in Wynnefield. He was 97.
He was born June 19, 1915 to Margaret Artepe Farmer and Francis A. Farmer I in Rochester, N.Y. He was the fifth child born to this union.
Farmer was educated in the public schools of Rochester and graduated from Rochester High School in 1932. He went on to graduate from Geneva College in 1936.
After college Farmer moved to Philadelphia with his mother. He went on to serve his country in World War II in the Army Air Corps at Fort Lee.
He married the Rev. Marjorie Nichols Farmer in 1943 and they had two sons.
In 1946, he began a printing business in North Philadelphia, The Farmer Press, with his brothers William and Clifford.
He entered public service in 1965 as a member of the Philadelphia Police Advisory Board. During his tenure he led numerous investigations regarding police brutality in the Black community. His talents as a tireless public servant and his commitment to bettering relations between the minority communities led to his next position.
In 1969, he was appointed executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations and expanded the focus and power of the commission during the Civil Rights movement. He opened up his office to the community and dealt with pressing issues such as housing, jobs, community empowerment and development. Anti-discrimination laws and policies that were created during his tenure are still in effect. Following his retirement in 1984 and in honor of his service as board chairman, the commission instituted the Clarence Farmer Service Award.
In 1984, he founded Clarence Farmer Associates, Inc. a consulting business. In conjunction with the Private Industry Council in 1986 he founded the Center for Adult Training, with the mission to train public assistance recipients to be geriatric care givers.
He also became the minority partner in food services at the Veterans’ Stadium forming a partnership with Ogden Foods. Through this endeavor he enabled people from the community to obtain secure union jobs during baseball and football seasons.
In addition to his business ventures, Farmer remained actively involved in civic affairs, human relations, education and politics. He chaired several boards including the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation and Black Tennis Foundation of Philadelphia, Inc. He also served on various boards including Geneva College, The Philadelphia Tribune and The Center for Urban Theological Studies.
His greatest endeavor in public service and legacy to the city he loved was the co-founding of the African American Historical & Cultural Museum in 1976. He would go on to serve as chairman emeritus of the museum.
“Through his activities and commitments, Clarence touched the lives and mentored many of the leaders in the city and state. He also displayed enormous humanitarian efforts through his countless deeds of personal service to many,” his family said.
“His life and legacy will be remembered by all those he touched throughout his career of service,” his family said.
In addition to his wife, he was preceded in death by his siblings Francis A. Farmer II, Edith Farmer Allen, Clifford Farmer and Helen Farmer (Brown) and son Clarence Farmer, Jr.
He is survived by his brother William Farmer of Philadelphia; son Dr. Franklin Farmer and his wife Hélène Treloar of Toronto, Ontario; daughter-in-law Sandra Farmer of Philadelphia; grandson David J. Farmer, Esq. of Calgary, Alberta; granddaughter Dr. Nicole Farmer and her husband, Christopher Woodard of Hyattsville, Md; granddaughter Helen Farmer of New York, N.Y.; great-grandsons Christopher Cormier of Calgary, Alberta and Christopher Woodard of Hyattsville, Md.; great granddaughter, Morgan Lee Woodard of Hyattsville, Md. and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held Feb. 8 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 7809 Old York Road in Elkins Park. Viewing is at 9 a.m. Services will follow at 11 a.m.
In lieu of cards and flowers, the family requests donations be made in memory of Clarence Farmer to the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Donations may be made online (aampmuseum.org) or by mail (701 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19106).