David Magney's Flora of Ventura County

Jack Farrell


Jack Farrell was a professor of botany at Ventura College from 1966 until after his retirement in 2008.   Jack taught me a love of native plants, including how they worked and how to determine their names.   He was a great natural historian who loved teaching and the natural environment.   He was born 16 February 1934 and died on 7 October 2009.   I took three classes from Professor Farrell, Native Plants, Plant Biology, and Field Biology.   I was fortunate to have known him and to have him as one of my most important teachers.   My Flora of Ventura County is dedicated to Jack Farrell.   It was Jack also who told me about the California Native Plant Society, which I soon joined.   The following paragraphs are based Jack's obituary as published in the Ventura County Star.

Photo of Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell, retired Ventura College biology professor, passed away peacefully in his home on Wednesday, Oct. 7, after a long battle with A.L.S.   Jack was born in Monterey Park, California, to Lily Ann and Edwin Farrell.   He had a large extended family that he loved dearly.   Jack grew up enjoying the outdoors, riding his horse and exploring nature.   He graduated with honors from Cal Poly Pomona, attended Claremont Graduate School and earned a masters degree in biology from Emporia State University while on a National Science Foundation Grant.   Jack had two loves, teaching and surfing, and he excelled at both.   He taught middle school and high school before coming to Ventura College in 1966.   Jack pursued his passion for surfing for nearly fifty years and even carried photos of an undeveloped C Street (presumably in Oxnard, since there is no such street in Ventura where he lived) in his car.

Jack cherished the days he spent at Surfer's Point (at the mouth of the Ventura River).   He would tell tales of surfing with dolphins and feeling whales brush by his dangling legs.   One morning after losing track of time while surfing, he arrived at his biology lecture in his wet suit, but this endeared to him to his students.   Though Jack had been retired for years, he still received letters and phone calls from former students thanking him for the way he could make difficult concepts come to life through his stories about the natural world.   He had a talent for nurturing students, and many of them went on to careers in science, ecology, education and medicine.   In the last five years his failing health caused Jack to give up both surfing and teaching.   In August, as the new semester was starting, he said it was teaching that he missed most of all.

Jack leaves his wife, Terry, and four children: Curt Farrell, Mike Farrell, Colleen Farrell, and Sean Farrell.   He also leaves five grandchildren and one great grandson, and many, many students.   This student is striving to extend his legacy of teaching about the environment through these pages on the Ventura County flora, and future hardcopy publication of the Flora of Ventura County, California, so that all who are interested may learn to love and appreciate the native plants of Ventura County.

This page was created on 18 October 2009 and last updated 23 July 2010.

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