WHAT’S IN A NAME: Jane K. Farrar Event Center

Published 10:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2023

Some people spend their lives by surrounding themselves with family and friends. Those special enough to be remembered after they’ve died leave a lasting legacy, often built around service to the community. Jane K. Farrar was that person for many people in the Lanett community but especially to the members of the senior center.

Jane was born on Oct. 10, 1930, in Meriwether County, Georgia. In high school, she and her sisters were athletes. Her oldest son, Richard Kelley Farrar, recalled unearthing her letterman jacket in an old cedar chest and being surprised to find out his mother had been a basketball player.

Jane and her husband lived in Abbotsford near West Point Lake, but when it was time for Kelley to begin kindergarten, they made the move to Lanett. 

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“Our education was very important to our parents,” Kelley said. 

Farrar’s greatest joy was her thriving family. She took great pride in attending events that her sons participated in over the years. Kelley was an athlete and his brothers, Michael and Joseph Farrar, pursued artistic activities, like band and drama. Kelley said her parents took opposite shifts to make sure that one or the other was always present with the boys.

“She was the heart and soul of the family,” Kelley said. “She was a very strong woman.”

Soon, Jane had made herself at home in the Lanett community and began her career at the senior center. A dedicated worker, she worked meticulously to make sure the senior center ran smoothly. 

During her time, Farrar inspired respect from the community by providing a variety of engaging activities for its citizens. She was very dedicated to the program.

“It was to her like what her family was to her when we were young,” Kelley said. “She poured her love and time and effort into the people.”

Farrar often arranged field trips for the center members. Every year, Jane organized the trip and loaded the members up in a bus. Kelley said she often invited him to join them. 

“She was an advocate for them,” Kelley said.

The group loved to visit casinos and see shows, according to Kelley. He remembered the rush to the penny slots and plates loaded up with crab legs at buffets. Jane would arrange for them to see a show and then have dinner. They visited Tunica, Biloxi, Memphis and Graceland. One year, he accompanied them all the way to New Orleans.

One year, a member who had recently had heart surgery went into a panic attack. Kelley, who is first aid certified, stayed with her while they waited for the paramedics. At almost 76 years old, Jane spent the night in the hospital with her until she was ready to leave. 

“The next day, you wouldn’t have known that she hadn’t got a good night’s sleep,” Kelley said. “She was just as effervescent as always.”

The senior center also participated in the Valley Senior Games every year. If Lanett’s members won, they moved on to the state senior games called Master Games of Alabama. 

There were many activities in the program, including golf, shuffleboard and a rook tournament. Jane always helped coordinate the program, making sure everyone had a good time.

“She always made a big deal of it,” Kelley said. “It was important to her.”

Jane worked for the city of Lanett for 34 before retiring from her position as director of the Lanett Senior Center. At 82 years old, she was still touching lives. 

“She loved the town of Lanett and she loved the school system … She dedicated her life to being a servant of the school system and the community,” Kelley said.

Jane worked at the senior center up until two weeks before she died. Her sense of humor was still sharp to the end. A few days before she passed away, Jane asked her son to make her a promise. She had been told that the city might name a building after her.

“Don’t let them name any of these buildings after me,” she said.

Kelley told her that the memorial was important to the town.

“It’s not for you. It’s for them,” he said. “They want to honor you.”

Farrar passed away on July 1, 2013. Only a month later, her first grandchild was born. Michael and his wife, Teresa, welcomed their daughter, naming her Taylor-Jane after her two grandmothers. 

“Her passing was not the highlight of her life,” Kelley said. “She had a life that was well lived … She lived every single day, every hour, every minute of it.”

In September, the city of Lanett renamed the senior center after Farrar. Kelley and his father, Richard, attended to cut the ribbon, inaugurating the new Jane K. Farrar Senior Center. 

Kelley said that the senior center was so successful because of Jane’s compassion, dedication and how she inspired others to be.

“It’s what it was because of who she was … She was important for a lot of people. I don’t know if everybody saw her that dramatically, but I think that’s the way she looked in my eyes. She was like the eye of a hurricane,” Kelley said.