"Farris Room" at Southwest Community College Commemorates Influential Couple

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State Representative Jeanne Richardson and John Farris share a memory
  • JB
  • State Representative Jeanne Richardson and John Farris share a memory
It was a modest ceremony but a star-studded one. A largish crowd of attendees across the span of the lives of Bill and Jimmie Farris showed up Monday afternoon for the dedication of a Farris Room in the campus administrative building of Southwest Tennessee Community College.

The building itself already bears the name of the Farris Building in honor of Bill Farris, the late philanthropist, patriarch, and ultimate mover and shaker who dominated local politics for at least two generations and had enormous influence on state and national government and politics as well. What the Farris Room does is house some of the extensive memorabilia that attached to the lives of Farris and his immediate and extended family, who still make a difference in what goes on.

The eminent personalities who joined the Farris family for Monday’s dedication and ribbon cutting were illustrious to the point of confounding any attempt to list them all. But among them were U.S. Appeals Court Judge Ron Gilman, a former Farris law partner; Rita Clark, who with Farris’ blessing went from homemaker and political activist to become one of the longest-serving Shelby County Assessors; Bobby Lanier and Bobby Bowers, influential behind-the-scenes agents of local government both; serving state legislators galore; and academics like Victor Feisal and Charles Temple, and former state Board of Regents chancellor Charles W. Manning, and Nathan Essex, current president of Southwest Tennessee Community College.

That Southwest exists today as a thriving multi-campus entity is very largely the work of Bill Farris, who did so much to endow it and to unite the former institutions of Shelby State Community College and State Technical Institute so as to create it.

Bill and Jimmie Farris, a community activist and political power in her own right, will be remembered for many things, most of them on evidence in the artifacts of the Farris Room, but the institution itself is an enormous part of their legacy.

Members of the Farris clan after the ribbon-cutting
  • JB
  • Members of the Farris clan after the ribbon-cutting

Memorabilia on one of the walls of the Farris Room
  • jb
  • Memorabilia on one of the walls of the Farris Room

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