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Earl M. Farnham
(May 26, 1916 - April 21, 2011)


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Earl Matthews Farnham, 94, of Bristol, died peacefully early Thursday morning, April 21, 2011, in Porter Nursing Home. Earl was born on May 26, 1916, in Wallingford the son of Florence Matthews and Elwyn Farnham. As a boy he was a little entrepreneur, selling eggs and trapping muskrats for their pelts to earn money for the family. Earl's childhood family moved to Shelburne, Chelsea, and finally to Wilder, and Earl graduated from Hartford High School in 1933. Artistic and creative, he went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, graduating with a B.A. in Architecture in 1937. Having discovered his true passion for designing buildings, Earl continued his education at Harvard University where he studied under Walter Gropius, earning a Masters in Architecture in 1939. He received a Traveling Fellowship in Architecture from Harvard and studied throughout the American Southwest and Mexico from 1939-1940. Returning to Boston in 1940, Earl was working for the Stone & Webster Architectural Firm when Uncle Sam called him in 1941 and he reported for duty in the Army/Air Corps. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1943 after graduating from M.I.T. as a Class A Meteorologist. Earl served during WW II as the Station Weather Officer at Elmendorf Air Force Base on Shemya in the Aleutian Islands off Alaska. Known as the "forgotten front," many Americans never knew that the Japanese occupied the island of Atu in the Aleutians for almost two years and were kept from further advancement toward U.S. soil by the U.S. Forces deployed to the Aleutians. Earl served again during the Korean War, and remained in the U.S. Air Force Reserve acting as Flight & Operations Briefing Officer at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, Ill. He attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring from active military service in 1976. In civilian life, Earl had a distinguished career as an Architect in private practice, designing many structures including homes, schools, banks, and light industrial complexes in the Champaign/Urbana, Ill. area, as well as homes and public buildings in White River, Norwich, W. Lebanon and Enfield, N.H. As an Architecture Professor, he taught design at the Univ. of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada from 1946-1948, at the Univ. of Illinois-Urbana from 19481970, and then came home to Vermont where his vision and energy created and established the Architecture program at VTC in Randolph Ctr., where he taught and lived from 19701976. In honor of his contributions to the Architectural community of Vermont, Earl was appointed by the Governor to the State Board of Architectural Registration. Earl's marriage to the love of his life, Susan Ellen Wright, on July 23, 1943, began a rich family journey which brought great joy and its share of sorrow. Earl and Susan had two daughters, Linda Farnham Lunna of Bristol, who survives him, and Susan Ellen Farnham who died at age 50 in 2007. Earl's beloved wife, Susan, died at age 54 in 1975, after a lengthy struggle with ALS. Following his wife's death, Earl was never the same. A decade ago, Earl built his last house in Bristol Notch near his daughter Linda and her husband, Al Lunna's home. A master blueberry picker, he was a daily feature driving his golf cart over from his house and around the fields at the family business, Lower Notch Berry Farm. Earl will be remembered for his dry Vermonter's wit, his creativity, his love of automobiles, telling a good story, his tenacity and his ability to fix almost anything. In addition to Linda and Al Lunna, Earl is survived by a granddaughter, Kimberly Lunna of Bristol; three stepgrandchildren, Renee Falconer and her husband, Geoff, of Brownington, Deric Lunna and his wife, Shirley, of Sheldon, and Shelli Lunna of Plattsburgh, N.Y.; three step-great-grand- children, Geoffrey and Michelle Falconer of Brownington, and Bonni Mae Lunna of Sheldon; his younger brother, Leon L. Farnham of Albuquerque, N.M.; a cousin, Madge Boardman of Rutland; as well as several nieces and nephews who are scattered across the country. The family is very grateful to Bristol Rescue, Dr. Kevin Mulholland, the doctors, nurses, and staff at Porter Hospital and Porter Health and Rehab as well as the residents of Otter Creek Place who befriended Earl and the Addison County Hospice nurses and volunteers who are proof positive that there are angels among us. Their loving care and support will never be forgotten. A graveside service with full military honors will be held on Thursday, May 26 at 12:00 noon in the Hartford Cemetery in White River Jct. There will be no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to any of the organizations mentioned in the above paragraph. The Knight Funeral Home in White River is entrusted with the arrangements.

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