GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Dr. Vera King Farris was remembered Friday as a multifaceted diamond who loved learning, people, basketball and “Star Trek,” and lived a life devoted to serving God by example.
The retired Richard Stockton College president died Nov. 28 at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Mainland Division, after falling ill last week. She was 71.
Her pastor, Frank Reeder, of Seaview Baptist Church in Linwood, said she told him she was dying when he visited her at the hospital last Friday.
“I said, ‘Vera, you don’t know that,’” Reeder said at funeral services at Wimberg Funeral Home in Galloway Township. “She just said, ‘I’m glad you’re here.’ She knew she was on her way home.”
Friends and family shared memories, many related to Farris’ 20 years as president of Stockton in Galloway Township. Multiple references were made to her bubbly personality and eye-catching hats, all on display in a half-dozen large photo montages set up in the funeral home. A burgundy-red velvet hat was placed on her casket.
“I remember her smile, her flair and the tilt of her hats,” said Bishop Dr. James Washington, of the New Shiloh Baptist Church in Atlantic City, Farris’ hometown.
The Rev. Lee Spitzer, former pastor of Seaview Baptist Church in Linwood, which Farris attended for more than 25 years, called her a serious scholar with a great smile and sense of humor, and a leader who helped others reach their potential.
“Her heart beat to the cadence of God’s love,” Reeder said.
Longtime friend and colleague Juanita High read condolence letters from Pleasantville Mayor Jesse Tweedle and state Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-Mercer, and a proclamation from the Atlantic County Board of Freeholders.
Stockton professor Demetrios Constantelos said that while Farris was a scientist by training, she also appreciated the humanities and was proud of the college faculty and the work they did.
Rabbi Aaron Krause, of Beth El Synagogue in Margate, called Farris a treasure. He said the Jewish community will be forever grateful for her work establishing the Holocaust Resource Center at the college, and her naming a chair in Holocaust studies in memory of her mother.
“She wanted to attract top scholars to Stockton, and she did,” he said.
Farris’ son, King, provided the most poignant and personal moments, noting that there were “many facets to the diamond known as Vera King Farris.”
He described her fondness for Star Trek’s Spock and James Bond, and said that a Christmas Day was not complete for his mother unless it involved yelling at NBA players.
She loved popcorn, Earl Grey tea, a good mystery and believed in and fought for education and opportunity for all.
“She lived each day with an eye to the future,” he said. “That’s the woman I grew up with and will take back to Mississippi to share with her grandchildren. Now that diamond is forever.”
Farris took one last trip to Stockton as the funeral procession drove down Vera King Farris Drive and stopped at the Arts and Science building, where a memorial was displayed.
Burial is in Germania Cemetery in Galloway Township. A scholarship fund has been set up in her memory at Stockton, and a memorial service is planned at the college from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 17 in the sports center. Information is on the Stockton Web site at www.stockton.edu.
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