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Donald Farley Jr.


1933 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Donald Farley Jr. Obituary
Donald Farley Jr.

Ithaca - Donald Thorn Farley Jr., 84, of Ithaca, New York, died May 13, 2018. Don was born in New York City on October 26, 1933, the only and well-loved child of Donald Thorn Farley Sr. and Rebecca Hamlin Farley.

He graduated with the highest scholastic honors from Bronxville High School, where he earned straight A's all four years. While there, he won awards in Latin, science, and mathematics. He was also editor of the school yearbook, captain of the cross-country team, and a member of the school's band and orchestra. He won a full academic scholarship to Cornell University's College of Engineering. While at Cornell he continued to run for the track and cross-country teams. He was president of the Delta Chi fraternity and a member of the Sphinx Head senior honorary society, the Tau Beta Phi engineering honorary society, the Phi Kappa Phi scholastic honorary society, and the Spiked Shoe and Cross-Country clubs. During the summer of his junior year he met and fell in love with fellow Cornell student Jennie Tiffany Towle while working at a resort in Lake Placid, NY. They married on June 16, 1956.

Donald and Jennie lived in Ithaca together while Don earned his PhD from Cornell in engineering physics. Following his graduation, they spent a year in England where he was a postdoctoral fellow at Cambridge University. They then moved to Sweden, where he earned the degree of Docent from Chalmers Technical University. From 1961 to 1967 he worked with the Jicamarca incoherent-scatter facility in Lima, Peru, first as a physicist and then as the director. Donald and Jennie returned to Ithaca in 1967 after he accepted a position as a full professor at Cornell University.

Throughout his career, Don was recognized for his many achievements. In the 1960s and 1970s he developed the principles of radio wave scattering to understand the ionized upper atmosphere, particularly the equatorial ionosphere. This work resulted in two U.S. Department of Commerce Distinguished Authorship Awards and a Gold Medal. He returned to Sweden in 1985 for a year as the Tage Erlander Visiting Professor at the Uppsala Ionospheric Observatory. In 1993 he became a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. In 1995 he received an Alexander von Humboldt Senior U.S. Scientist Research Award and spent a sabbatical year in Germany. He was awarded the Appleton Prize at the International Scientific Radio Union General Assembly in 1996 (the first American to win the prize in 18 years). He received the Gold Medal for Geophysics from the Royal Astronomical Society in 1997. He was awarded the Hannes Alfvén Medal by the European Geophysical Union in 2010. As an educator, he was commended for teaching with skill, wit, and insight and for his particular talent for finding simplicity in the face of complexity. In 1996 he won a College of Engineering Award for Excellence in Teaching.

In Don's own words, he and Jennie were blissfully happy working, traveling, and raising a family for 46 years together until her death in 2002.

Don later met and married the second love of his life, Dorothy Pasternack. Together they enjoyed socializing, traveling, and playing bridge.

Don was a lifelong athlete. He was a great tennis player, hiker, and canoer. His real passion, though, was running. He was a distance runner in high school and college and ran many marathons throughout his life. He was a longtime member of the Finger Lakes Runners Club and the High Noon Athletic Club.

Don is survived by his wife Dorothy Pasternack of Ithaca. He is also survived by his three children: Claire Farley (Jim Hisle) of Phoenix, AZ; Anne Farley Cremer (Jim Cremer) of Iowa City, IA; and Peter Farley (Kathy Johnson Farley) of Ithaca; as well as four grandchildren: Christopher Towle Farley Wright, Jennie Lynn Wright, Laura Farley Cremer, and Paul Farley Cremer.

Don was a brilliant scientist, an accomplished athlete, and a loving and generous father and husband. Even in his illness, as his brilliant mind faded, he remained warm and cheerful and kind. He lived his life fully and will be greatly missed.

Bangs Funeral Home will be assisting the family.
Published in Ithaca Journal on May 14, 2018
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