In memory of
Donald R. Farmer
In memory of
Donald R. Farmer
Farmer, Donald R. 8/13/1925 - 5/12/2020 Ypsilanti, MI Intrepid adventurer Donald Richard Farmer escaped death three times before dying peacefully at age 94 in the canopy bed he built for his "sweetie Dottie" on their 25th anniversary. Born August 13, 1925 in Detroit, Don was a cherished only child. His mom worked for the downtown Hudsons and dad set diamonds for Traub Manufacturing (Orange Blossom diamond rings). Don's dad nurtured his dream of flying by taking him to air shows, and to remote grassy fields where he could fly the noisy gas-powered model planes he built. After graduating from Denby High, Don joined the Army Air Corp. Flying the PT 13, PT 19 and then the P-51(D) fighter plane was glorious - except the day he accidently hit the "redline" (speed of sound) while chasing his Sargent through the clouds, freezing the controls and plunging him earthward. After WWII, Don used the GI Bill to attend American Television Tech in Chicago, the first in his family to go to college. Just short of graduation he joined Charlie Kotcher's engineering team at WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 in Detroit, spending 2 years setting up the station before it went on the air. Don had the only TV in his neighborhood then, having built it in TV school - before most people knew what TV was! Don helped develop live sports broadcasts and breaking news programming. He was a brilliant problem solver, conceiving and building the first telescoping antennae - newer versions of which you still see installed on the roof of every remote TV truck in the country. Prior to this invention, station employees would spend several days before and after a remote event erecting and deconstructing scaffolding in order to transmit the TV signal. Don was a leader in unionizing (IBEW) and in integrating Channel 7. In his off hours Don enjoyed a series of planes with his wife and co-pilot Dottie : SeaBee, Tripacer and Baby Ace. They also enjoyed a series of sailboats: Bottoms Up, For Sale, Butterfly, Butterfly II, (Windsong) and Tarangy. Eager to try anything new, they learned to ski at Boyne Mountain with Olympian Stein Erikson , then went on to Switzerland. Don enjoyed scuba diving until he had a regulator failure inside a sunken ship at the bottom of Acapulco Bay, surviving thanks to careful buddy breathing with his Mexican guide. They were world travelers to Europe, Scandinavia, Greece, parts of the Middle East, Mexico, Central and South America and Antarctica. He took 16mm movies of their travels, and appeared on World Adventure Series with Detroit's George Pierrot – as well as in the classrooms of his two daughters. Don designed and built model planes, model and full scale boats, furniture, light fixtures, an underwater camera housing and several homes. Don was a self taught painter and poet, and could fix anything from plumbing and roofs to your TV signal when the screen said "Please Stand By." His boss described him as "the smartest man I ever met." Don retired after 35 years at WIXIE, spending the following spring and summer sailing the boat he had outfitted in his backyard through Lake Huron, the Canadian Trent-Severn and New York State Canal systems to New York City harbor with his fearless Dottie. From there Dottie flew home to say goodbye to family and friends while Don sailed single-handedly through Hurricane Josephine in the Bermuda Triangle. Exhausted, sails torn and boat battered, he put a FOR SALE sign on his boat in Bermuda, believing the biggest boat he could afford was actually too small for them to safely continue their planned sail around the world. But Les Knox, a retired dairy farmer moored nearby with the same dream and a bigger boat - but no sailing skills - suggested they join forces. And so they did, sailing together for the next five years, wives joining them in ports around the world. When his sailing days ended, he and Dottie settled in their condo in the sky in Waikiki, Hawaii. Don was kind, calm, polite and helpful, never raising his voice or swearing. He believed, and taught his kids and grandkids that "you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it, and "try to leave the world better than you found it." He is survived by daughters Cheryl Christine Farmer MD and Kathryn Ann Becker; Grandsons Brett Becker(Rebecca) and Kevin Becker (Kathleen); Grandaughter Brianne Pawloski (Pete); great grandchildren Claire, Aiden and Lilith. His wife of 74 years Dorothy Ruth Mattoon Farmer died in January. A memorial will be planned at a later date. Donations may be made toward The Children's Heart Foundation https://www.childrensheartfoundation.org/ The family would be especially pleased to hear any stories you'd like to share, c/o Cheryl Farmer, 214 N. Huron St., Ypsilanti, MI 48197.
View Full Obituary ›
Services Provided By
Janowiak Funeral Home Inc. - Ypsilanti
320 N. Washington
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
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opt312: Original
In memory of
Donald R. Farmer
Farmer, Donald R. 8/13/1925 - 5/12/2020 Ypsilanti, MI Intrepid adventurer Donald Richard Farmer escaped death three times before dying peacefully at age 94 in the canopy bed he built for his "sweetie Dottie" on their 25th anniversary. Born August 13, 1925 in Detroit, Don was a cherished only child. His mom worked for the downtown Hudsons and dad set diamonds for Traub Manufacturing (Orange Blossom diamond rings). Don's dad nurtured his dream of flying by taking him to air shows, and to remote grassy fields where he could fly the noisy gas-powered model planes he built. After graduating from Denby High, Don joined the Army Air Corp. Flying the PT 13, PT 19 and then the P-51(D) fighter plane was glorious - except the day he accidently hit the "redline" (speed of sound) while chasing his Sargent through the clouds, freezing the controls and plunging him earthward. After WWII, Don used the GI Bill to attend American Television Tech in Chicago, the first in his family to go to college. Just short of graduation he joined Charlie Kotcher's engineering team at WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 in Detroit, spending 2 years setting up the station before it went on the air. Don had the only TV in his neighborhood then, having built it in TV school - before most people knew what TV was! Don helped develop live sports broadcasts and breaking news programming. He was a brilliant problem solver, conceiving and building the first telescoping antennae - newer versions of which you still see installed on the roof of every remote TV truck in the country. Prior to this invention, station employees would spend several days before and after a remote event erecting and deconstructing scaffolding in order to transmit the TV signal. Don was a leader in unionizing (IBEW) and in integrating Channel 7. In his off hours Don enjoyed a series of planes with his wife and co-pilot Dottie : SeaBee, Tripacer and Baby Ace. They also enjoyed a series of sailboats: Bottoms Up, For Sale, Butterfly, Butterfly II, (Windsong) and Tarangy. Eager to try anything new, they learned to ski at Boyne Mountain with Olympian Stein Erikson , then went on to Switzerland. Don enjoyed scuba diving until he had a regulator failure inside a sunken ship at the bottom of Acapulco Bay, surviving thanks to careful buddy breathing with his Mexican guide. They were world travelers to Europe, Scandinavia, Greece, parts of the Middle East, Mexico, Central and South America and Antarctica. He took 16mm movies of their travels, and appeared on World Adventure Series with Detroit's George Pierrot – as well as in the classrooms of his two daughters. Don designed and built model planes, model and full scale boats, furniture, light fixtures, an underwater camera housing and several homes. Don was a self taught painter and poet, and could fix anything from plumbing and roofs to your TV signal when the screen said "Please Stand By." His boss described him as "the smartest man I ever met." Don retired after 35 years at WIXIE, spending the following spring and summer sailing the boat he had outfitted in his backyard through Lake Huron, the Canadian Trent-Severn and New York State Canal systems to New York City harbor with his fearless Dottie. From there Dottie flew home to say goodbye to family and friends while Don sailed single-handedly through Hurricane Josephine in the Bermuda Triangle. Exhausted, sails torn and boat battered, he put a FOR SALE sign on his boat in Bermuda, believing the biggest boat he could afford was actually too small for them to safely continue their planned sail around the world. But Les Knox, a retired dairy farmer moored nearby with the same dream and a bigger boat - but no sailing skills - suggested they join forces. And so they did, sailing together for the next five years, wives joining them in ports around the world. When his sailing days ended, he and Dottie settled in their condo in the sky in Waikiki, Hawaii. Don was kind, calm, polite and helpful, never raising his voice or swearing. He believed, and taught his kids and grandkids that "you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it, and "try to leave the world better than you found it." He is survived by daughters Cheryl Christine Farmer MD and Kathryn Ann Becker; Grandsons Brett Becker(Rebecca) and Kevin Becker (Kathleen); Grandaughter Brianne Pawloski (Pete); great grandchildren Claire, Aiden and Lilith. His wife of 74 years Dorothy Ruth Mattoon Farmer died in January. A memorial will be planned at a later date. Donations may be made toward The Children's Heart Foundation https://www.childrensheartfoundation.org/ The family would be especially pleased to hear any stories you'd like to share, c/o Cheryl Farmer, 214 N. Huron St., Ypsilanti, MI 48197.
View Full Obituary ›
Services Provided By
Janowiak Funeral Home Inc. - Ypsilanti
320 N. Washington
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
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