William Vaughn Farmer (Vaughn), age 65, passed away peacefully in hospice care, after an acute stroke, in Oceanside, California on May 5, 2016 with his brother Dick by his side. Vaughn was a loving brother, uncle, nephew and cousin who demonstrated resilience over a lifetime of hardship and loneliness due to his learning disabilities and mental illness. Vaughn received satisfaction from his ability to live life independently from institutions. He applied his keen memory for detail to legal research in his twenties and advocacy for rights for persons with disabilities and mental illness. He was gruff on the exterior, but had a heart of pure gold for those that he loved and that loved him.
Vaughn was born in New York City on March 26, 1951 to William Reuben Farmer and Nell Cochran Farmer. He spent his elementary years in Greencastle, Indiana and Madison, New Jersey with his parents and siblings Dick and Don. When he was 10 they moved to Dallas, Texas, where his father taught at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and where sister Becky was born. He graduated from Highland Park High School in 1969. Vaughn worked in several vocational jobs that were frustrating and debilitating for him, including many years as a night orderly at Baylor Hospital. He graduated with a BA from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas in 1989, majoring in History and minoring in Sociology, an accomplishment in which he took great pride. He visited his brother Dick and family in New Zealand in 1990. On his return, he stopped in Hawaii, and he decided to live there on the streets and beaches while becoming eligible for receiving Social Security Disability. After receiving SSI benefits, achieving his goal of independence and freedom, he moved to Vista, California in 1997 and in 2002 moved to Oceanside, California, where he lived for the remaining 14 years of his life.
Vaughn hated being cold and he loved the warm weather and beaches of Hawaii and Oceanside. He was a Democratic political junkie, and avid TV connoisseur of C-SPAN, PBS, MSNBC and countless television shows. He loved to share information from a program and could recite to you a litany of interesting facts. He learned to survive on the streets but also had a tender heart. He was frustrated and hurt by those who took advantage of him or rebuffed him, and often re-lived old grievances and was suspicious of others. But he also never gave up on trying to connect with his neighbors, and his family. His hygiene, eating habits, and mannerisms were challenging and difficult for those of us who loved him, but he could be coaxed into relaxing in a family environment where he felt safe. Vaughn’s sweet, shy smile could explode into laughter – he especially relished ironic political humor. He had a great curiosity, and could ask pertinent, probing, exhausting questions on a variety of topics. He was adamant about his rights as a person with mental illness and disability and an effective advocate for himself to receive services, and he also knew when to ask for help from his brother Dick. He was frugal in his personal life and appreciated the meals and fellowship provided by Brother Benno’s Soup Kitchen and Bread for Life Rescue Mission. He cared deeply about his family, and always wanted to share his advice with those he loved for financial deals, healthy living and ways to stay safe. He sent generous gifts to family. He wanted others to learn from his mistakes. He wore his heart on his sleeve – you always knew where he was coming from. Those of us who loved him will miss him deeply.
Vaughn is survived by three siblings: Richard Farmer of Georgetown, Texas; Donald Farmer of Dallas, Texas; and Becky Evans, Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, he is survived by six nieces and nephews: Ricky Farmer, Georgetown, TX; David Farmer, Denver, CO; Ben, Matthew and Carly Evans of Atlanta, GA; Spirit Farmer of Nelson, New Zealand, and April Farmer. Many thanks to his cousin Mike Poutre and wife Gina of Escondido, CA for their hospitality hosting Dick or Becky when we visited Vaughn and to Ben, Pat, and Tina Cochran of Dublin, GA and Carrie Jane Loftis of Dallas, TX for supportive lifetime relationships and friendships with Vaughn.
The memorial service for Vaughn will be Saturday, July 9, 2016 at 2:30 pm, at University Park United Methodist Church, in Dallas, Texas, in the Caldwell Room, with a reception following. To learn more, call Becky at 678 613 8942 or [email protected]
Letters of condolence to family may be mailed to either: Dick Farmer, 2406 Brookline Terrace, Georgetown, TX 78626 or Becky Evans, 1408 Cornell Road, Atlanta, GA 30306. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his memory to either of these two organizations in Oceanside, CA that provided food, Christian fellowship and community to Vaughn: Brother Benno Foundation https://www.brotherbenno.org/ 3260 Production Avenue, Oceanside, CA 92058 Bread of Life Rescue Mission http://bolrescue.org/Home.html/ PO Box 458, Oceanside, CA 92049
Our family gives thanks to God for Vaughn’s life, and we are grateful that he is now at peace and rest with God.