Barbara Boynton Farmer
October 26, 1920-May 28, 2011
It is with great sadness that Global Ministries learned of the death of Barbara B. Farmer. Barbara passed away May 28, 2011, at the age of 90 in Davis, with her family members present.
She was born in Russell, Massachusetts, to Harry Boynton and Mary Grant Boynton, attended elementary school in Russell, high school in Westfield, and American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts, graduating in 1942 with a B.S. degree. She was working for the Army checking gauges at the Winchester plant in New Haven, Connecticut, when she met Garland Farmer, a student at Yale Divinity School preparing to be a missionary overseas. They married September 10, 1944, in Russell and lived in New Haven until Garland graduated in 1945. Following that, they made a visit to Texas to meet his family.
In preparation for missionary service with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico, Barbara studied Spanish and Bible at Vanderbilt University and Scarrett College, Nashville, Tennessee. They arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in July 1946, and she began her work at McLean Conference Grounds, a center for retreats in the hills south of Bayamon. In addition, she made friends with local area women, encouraging them to do needlework, which she sold to tourist shops in San Juan for them. She also worked with the pastors’ wives and the laywomen of the congregations.
By 1959, Barbara and her husband knew that they had worked themselves out of jobs and were considering returning to the States when they were asked to be missionaries to what was then the Belgian Congo in Africa. By this time, Barbara was the mother of three girls, Margaret Anne and Louise, born in Puerto Rico, and Christine, born in Massachusetts. All five of the Farmers went to Brussels to learn French.
After eight months of study, the family left by ship for the Belgian Congo, landing on May 1, 1960. They were stationed at Coquillatville (Mbandaka), the capital of Equator Province, where Barbara worked with women’s groups of the large church in the city until the riot of soldiers following independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960. At that time, Barbara and her daughters, along with other families, were flown to Belgium and then to the U.S. while seven husbands remained working with the churches in Congo.
Barbara and her daughters returned to Congo in 1961 and remained until 1964 when the whole family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana. In Indianapolis, she was hired to work at Indiana University Medical Center. She earned a master’s degree in biochemistry while working, did research on the effect of chemicals on rat heart muscles, and joined the National Institutes of Health in four site visits to schools of medicine prior to retirement in 1990. In retirement, she and Garland served two short terms at hospitals in Kempese and Bolenge, Congo. In addition, she was an active volunteer in the Indianapolis community until she suffered a back injury, which limited her activities. She and Garland moved to California in 1995 to be closer to family members.
Barbara is survived by her husband of nearly 67 years, Garland Farmer; daughters Margaret Ann Farmer, Louise Uota (Alan) of Davis, and Christine Clarke (Michael) of Menlo Park; grandchildren Brian (Marie), Jeffrey and Catherine Clarke, and Ryan Uota; great-grandson Niels; sister Elizabeth Boynton of Providence, Rhode Island; and other relatives in Texas, Southern California, and Seattle.
Barbara will be remembered for her warmth, her generosity, her intellect, her talent as an artist, her love of gardening and, above all, her love for and dedication to her family.
An interactive memorial tribute for Barbara Boynton Farmer was held on Saturday, June 11, 2011, at the Carolee Shields White Garden and Gazebo at the UC Davis Arboretum, a place she loved to visit.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Citizens Who Care, 1017 Main St., Woodland, CA 95695, or Yolo Hospice, 1909 Galileo Court, Suite A, Davis, CA 95618, or to a favorite charity. Condolences may be sent to: Reverend Garland Farmer, 1515 Shasta Drive, Apt. 1202, Davis, CA 95616.