James William Farris, Jr.
5/2/1930 – 2/27/2023
James W. Farris passed away peacefully at his home on February 27, 2023. Born in Owatonna, MN on May 2, 1930 to James W. and Florence E. (Liebe) Farris, he lived his youth in Libby, MT and Spokane, WA with his sister, Mary and brother, Jack. His family moved from Spokane to Seattle in the early 1940’s.
Upon completion of the eighth grade at Holy Rosary School he spent four years at O’ Dea High School, graduating in 1948. He then went on to Seattle University where he met his future wife, Mary Ellen Bergmann and obtained a degree in Education. He also became a member of the Knights of Columbus. Teaching was temporarily delayed by two years of military service with the U.S. Army in Korea. At the end of his military service, he received a contract with Seattle Public Schools teaching fourth and fifth grades at High Point School in West Seattle. At the same time, he was doing graduate work at Seattle University.
He and Mary Ellen married in 1955, settled in the West Seattle community and started their family. In 1960 he was made Vice Principal of High Point School, and three years later as Principal of Fauntleroy School. His career ended upon retirement after a long stint in the Seattle School District’s Administration with a focus on educational planning, new building construction, desegregation and school closures.
Jim and Mary Ellen, until her death in 2004, were continually involved in Holy Rosary Parish. He began that service as an altar boy, later singing in the choir, ushering for Mass, teaching high school Religion classes, serving as a lector and Eucharistic Minister, and organizing the Lector program for numerous years. After Vatican II he served on the parish council during its development years. Jim also was on the Holy Rosary School Board for many years and served a term on the Archdiocesan School Board. When the children were teenagers, they, with their parents, operated the Sunday baby-sitting program for the parish and organized monthly parish dances in the hall. In 1986, Mary Ellen began the soup kitchen that is still a part of the parish outreach program and Jim assisted with the work delivering soup to downtown shelters. The soup kitchen is still a part of the parish outreach program today.
In more recent years he started a senior ministry group, planning after mass breakfasts and various outings. He had a strong commitment to his family, equally strong belief in his faith and a love of vintage Chevrolets.
Jim was a member of Puget Sound Region Vintage Chevrolet Club of America and served in nearly every leadership position. He was Director, Assistant Director/tour leader, newsletter editor, among others. He gave his time and talent to National VCCA as Area 3 Director, National Board Member, and National President. He shared the vision and passion of keeping antique Chevys on the road, creating the National Passport program which recognizes old Chevrolets that are driven. He took great pride in his 1922 Roadster which placed second at the Flint Anniversary Meet and was driven on tours. He and his friend, Tom Meleo shared a belief in the importance of driving all old Chevrolets and sharing the knowledge they held with others to keep those cars on the road. The annual VCCA 4 Cylinder Tour was the result and has continued now for 30+ years, gathering over 50 pre-1928 cars to drive 400-mile adventures in various locations across the USA. His motto for tours was ‘you are not lost; you are having an adventure’. Tour routes planned by Jim were often selected to replicate the environment an old Chevy might have encountered, reflecting the travel experience of 50+ years ago. A drive with an element of challenge was best and always his first choice. Members on his tours took on the challenges and rewards his routes provided.
Prior to his wife’s passing in 2004, Jim and Mary Ellen would spend many weeks each year traveling the "back roads" of the US, combining their love of history with their passion for researching family genealogy.
He is survived by his daughters Kathy Booth (Paige), Theresa Deacy (Pat), Rosemary Lathrop, Cecilia Burcroff (Jim) and son Jim (Leslie) Farris; 13 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren: Chris (son Declan), Mike and Kevin (daughter Emma) Booth; Lauren (son Jack) (DJ) Weidner and Alex Deacy; Will and Caroline Lathrop; Andy (Alex) Burcroff, Emily (Nate) Parks, Paul and Nicholas Burcroff; Jim and Katie Farris. Also survived by his bother Jack Farris of Pensacola, FL.
Mass of the Christian Burial, Tuesday, March 14th at 10 a.m. at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 4139-42nd Ave. S.W., Seattle 98116.
In lieu of flowers and in light of his passion for education, donations may be made to Holy Rosary School/Endowment Fund.
The Funeral Mass for James William Farris can be viewed at this link:
To share your condolences and memories of Jim, please visit his Tribute Wall, located above.
- Care & Arrangements Entrusted to Emmick Family Funeral Home -
Please direct Memorial Donations to the facility/charity listed in the obituary above