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RLC Foundation looks back on legacy of donor Marjorie Farrar

The Diamond donor level in the Rend Lake College Foundation is reserved for those who go far above and beyond with contributions to the college. With only 11 members of this group, these donors represent major sponsors of all kinds, from scholarship donors to event sponsors, and everything in between.

Among them is the late Marjorie S. Farrar, known to many at the RLC Foundation Children’s Center (RLCFCC) as “Grandma Marj.” Throughout her life, Farrar and her family have made more than $250,000 in donations to the college, specifically to the RLCFCC, to reach Diamond level status. Farrar passed away on November 27 at the age of 94.

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Marjorie Farrar sits with children enrolled at the RLC Foundation Children’s Center in 2012.
(RLC Public Information)

Farrar’s first donation to the college dates back more than two decades when she, and her husband Fletcher, took part in the 1995 Capital Campaign to match a Title III grant. With matches from the Federal Government, the grant totaled $750,000 to create the RLC Foundation and an endowment for generations of students.

Pat Kern, former CEO of the Foundation and current RLCF Board member, recalls the beginning of Farrar’s legacy at the college. It started with a need brought to the college’s attention by the accreditation board, then called the North Central Accrediting Association.

“In 1997, the Foundation was stagnant for a few months. We wanted to do something very badly. We wanted to be active and to pick up a project,” explained Kern. “The college’s number one need at the time was a daycare center for the students, and that was presented to the Foundation and we took on the project.”

Then, the estimated cost of the Children’s Center was approximately $360,000. With no money raised, Farrar made the initial donation of $100,000 that served as a catalyst for the project. Soon another major donor in Coyn Mateer matched Farrar’s donation, and with help from other community members, the Children’s Center was soon fully funded. The RLCFCC began construction and opened in the fall of 1998.

“Marjorie loved children and she loved to hear children laugh. Most of all, she loved helping,” said Kern. “She always came to Thanksgiving dinner at the Children’s Center and she visited as often as she could. She also helped college students travel abroad. It was her opinion that education happened over a lifetime. Now her family, who she loved dearly, is carrying on her legacy by continuing to support the RLC Foundation.”

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Marjorie Farrar holds Aurora Drew of Benton during the RLC Foundation Children’s Center’s Thanksgiving celebration in 2013.
(RLC Public Information)

Part of that legacy also includes the initial donation of $100,000 to the RLCFCC in 2014 to get the ball rolling on a new addition. Now called the Skill Development Room, the 1,500-square-foot space provides children with an indoor recreational space and learning library.

Farrar’s donation was announced during the 2014 RLCF Annual Dinner, and was shortly followed by another significant donation from an anonymous individual. Within two years, the addition was completely funded and opened in time for the Fall 2016 semester.

A ribbon-cutting was held for the Skill Development Room in August and was led by Farrar’s son Fletcher in her absence.

In addition to her donations to the RLCFCC, Farrar also donated the lot located north of the Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon, which was recently sold and is now under construction. Valued at approximately $500,000, the donation is one of the largest gifts-in-kind the Foundation has ever received.

Outside of her contributions to the college, Farrar was a school teacher in Salem, Ill., and Oklahoma. She also worked office jobs, one specifically at the family business, Farrar Oil Company, and owned Farraway Farm near Bluford. She also volunteered and worked at her church, Central Christian in Mt. Vernon. In 2001, Farrar was named a Senior Saint by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

The family has designated the Rend Lake College Foundation as one of the charitable organizations to receive gifts in her memory. To view Marjorie Farrar’s online obituary, visit Staab Funeral Home.