William McFarland

Obituary
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  • "Dear Family, My thoughts and prayers are with you all. May..."
  • "Matt, we are truly sorry for the loss of your father. You..."
    - Lari Mertel
  • "Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you grieve the..."
  • "I am so sorry for your loss. Joe was always the first I..."
  • "Matt, our prayers and thoughts are with you and your..."
    - Tom & Sheryl Sommers
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William Joseph McFarland, President Emeritus of Geneva College, rose to join his Lord on January 27 at age 82. He was born July 25, 1929, in Sterling, Kansas. He grew up as the oldest of three boys in Quinter, Kansas, where his father was a minister during the depression and Dust Bowl days. He joined the Reformed Presbyterian Church as a young man and was a life-long member. He attended Jr. High School and High School in Topeka before his family moved to Sterling, Kansas, where he finished high school and graduated from Sterling College. He was a five-sport letterman while in college. He graduated from college in 1951, was inducted into the Army that summer, and married his high school sweetheart, Roberta Dill, while en-route to Korea that same year. They remained devoted and much in love for 60 years and raised three children. He spent 16 months in Korea, half of that housed in tents, and was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation and three bronze service stars. Upon his discharge from the Army in 1953, he began a unique educational career that spanned all levels from public school classrooms through that of college president. During six years at Turon, Kansas, he served as 6th grade teacher, Jr. High Coach and Elementary Principal; coached and taught at the High School; and became Superintendent of Schools. In 1959 , he joined the staff of Emporia State University where he served in a variety of teaching and administrative positions culminating as Head of the Elementary Department. In 1966, he accepted the position of Associate Executive Officer of the Kansas State Teachers Association (K-NEA) in Topeka, and four years later became Director of Academic Affairs for the Kansas Board of Regents...a position he held for 14 years...including six months as Interim Executive Officer. In 1984,he was named President of Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, where he served until his retirement in 1992. In retirement, he served a year in Taiwan as Consultant to the President of Christ's College and later spent a term in Cyprus as Headmaster of the American Academy in Nicosia. Joe was active in both church and community affairs throughout his life. Many of his activities have been chronicled in his autobiography, My Time on the Clock: The Shaping of a College President. Remarkably fit until late in life, he officiated high school and college football games for 50 years, and was inducted into the Topeka Official's Association Hall of Fame in 2010. He made his first parachute jump at age 70 and his second at age 80; was Tri-state Senior Olympic Champion in the javelin; and claimed a hole-in-one in golf. In frequent demand as a public speaker, he was a master of self-deprecating wit. He was Master of Ceremonies for the Governor's State Prayer Breakfast for over a decade; served as an Elder in his church; was active in the Downtown Topeka Rotary Club; taught a Businessman's Bible Study group of 30 men; Chaired the Governor's Commission on School to Work; held a private pilot's license for 25 years; Chaired the Kansas Aerospace Education Commission; and was listed in Who's Who in America for over 30 years. He earned his M.A. Degree from the University of Northern Colorado and his Doctorate from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. He was honored to receive the Sterling High School Black Bear Alumni Award; the Indiana University Teaching Associate Award; the Sterling College Distinguished Service Award: an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Sterling College; and an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from Geneva College. He is survived by his wife of 60 years. Two sons, Bill and Matt, a daughter and son-in-law, Kathy and Tim Gardner, all of Topeka, a brother and sister-in -law, Rev. Robert and Georgia McFarland, also of Topeka and a sister-in-law, Siola McFarland, Holland, Michigan. He is also survived by three grand-children: Sarah Muehler (Brandon), Rachel and Hannah Gardner and many nieces, nephews, and cousins . He was predeceased by his father Dr. A. J. McFarland, his mother Sylvia Hutcheson McFarland and a younger brother Rev. Armour J. McFarland. The family is requesting, in lieu of flowers, donations be considered to Geneva College, Sterling College or the Topeka Reformed Presbyterian Church. Graveside services will be held at 11am, Thursday, February 2, at the Sterling Cemetery, Sterling, KS. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 am, Saturday, February 4, at the Topeka Reformed Presbyterian Church, 8345 SW 33rd Street, Topeka. Friends may greet the family before and following the memorial service. Online condolences may be sent to www.kevinbrennanfamily.com. William J. McFarland
Funeral Home
Kevin Brennan Family Funeral Home
2801 SW Urish Road
Topeka, KS 66614
(785) 272-7888
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Published in Topeka Capital-Journal from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1, 2012
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