James Francis Farrell

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James Francis Farrell, 89, of Manchester, died peacefully on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, after an accident four days earlier at his home.

An engineer, pilot, and bagpiper, he was loved and admired by his large family and a wide circle of friends. Born on June 7, 1923, into a farm family in Caledonia, N.Y., he graduated from Caledonia High School. In World War II he served in the United States Army Air Forces as a flight instructor in the 441st Fighter Squadron at Perry, Fla., and then as a pilot in the 91st Fighter Squadron, 81st Fighter Group, 14th Air Force, at Chengtu Airfield, China. He flew a P-47 Thunderbolt in missions over that country in 1944 and 1945. In 1949 he married Gertrude Skivington of Scottsville, N.Y., his beloved wife of 43 years, who died in 1992. He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1951 with a degree in aeronautical engineering, and a year later joined United Technologies Research Laboratories in East Hartford as a research engineer. At his retirement in 1985, he was deputy director of personnel operations. In the 1950s, he and a colleague there taught themselves to play the bagpipes, and founded St. Patrick's Pipe Band. He in turn instructed many of its younger pipers, and was still giving lessons days before his death. A devoted small plane pilot, golfer, and woodworker, he found time each week to volunteer for Meals on Wheels and for St. James Roman Catholic Church in Manchester, where he was a Eucharistic minister.

And he gave all the time in the world to his family: his children, Katherine Gurtowsky of Bristol, Maureen Harvey of Ellington, Patrick Farrell of New York City, Terrance Farrell of Kennebunk, Maine, and Mary McCabe of Basking Ridge, N.J.; 10 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sisters, Sally Flynn of Caledonia, N.Y., and Alice Kohout of Williamsville, N.Y.; his sister-in-law, Mary O'Connell of Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and many nephews and nieces.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 10 a.m. at St. James Church, 896 Main St., Manchester.

Friends and family may call on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at John F. Tierney Funeral Home, 219 W. Center St., Manchester.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Visiting Nurse and Health Services of Connecticut Meals on Wheels program, 8 Keynote Drive, Vernon CT 06066.

For online condolences please visit


Funeral Home
John F. Tierney Funeral Home
219 West Center Street
Manchester, CT 06040-4857
(860) 643-1222
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Published in Journal Inquirer from Jan. 3 to Jan. 7, 2013
bullet U.S. Army bullet World War II