Paul Farrar — South Burlington Legacy

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Thursday July 25, 2013

Paul Farrar will long be remembered for his civic contributions to South Burlington. The former City Council Chairman succumbed to cancer on July 11, 2013. 

He received his bachelor’s degree from New York University, in chemical engineering in 1953, a Master’s in Material Science in 1955, and a Doctorate in Engineering Science in February 1963. His doctoral research commissioned by the DOD lead to his development of the alloy Titanium 662. He continued on as a Research Fellow at NYU, until joining IBM Burlington in 1968 where he was instrumental in the development of modern semiconductor technology. Farrar holds nearly 200 US patents related to material science. 

Farrar served on the South Burlington City Council for five terms, from 1973-1991, 15 of those years as Chairman. His efforts helped establish the Dorset Street City Center, which included the construction of the municipal building, as well as the establishment of William Szymanski and Overlook Parks. He was the chairman of the Metropolitan Planning Commission Organization in 1983, and served for 15 years. Farrar also volunteered in the community and was a charter member of the South Burlington Rotary Club, of which he remained an active member. Paul Farrar retired fully in 2008, and he and his wife began splitting their time between their home in South Burlington and a winter retreat in Hilton Head, S.C. 

Farrar was remembered during the July 15 City Council meeting by former friends and colleagues, Secretary of State Jim Condos, John Dinklage, Chuck Hafter and John Wilking.

John Wilking recalled Paul Farrar’s commitment to community through his work with  the South Burlington Rotary Club, of which he was the final founding member. Wilking said, “I can tell you that Rotary and community service was an important part of Paul’s life.   He was totally dedicated to Rotary because of our ability to reach into the community, and his presence is already missed.” 

John Dinklage remembers Farrar as a friend, a teacher, and a mentor, professionally and politically.   They worked together at IBM, and served on City Council together as well.  “Paul had a large view of what South Burlington could become.  He was highly organized, business like, collaborative and a very effective Councilor.  He was a leader and got things done,” he said. 
Chuck Hafter, former South Burlington City Manager, reflected on Farrar’s unique municipal policy ideas and practices.  He said, “Ideas flowed from Paul like water from a June Vermont sky.  Part of the manager’s job was to vet these ideas for practicality. Paul was the iconic “Big Thinker” and the word “can’t” was a word with which he was not familiar.  If you read the City Charter you will note several “peculiarities”.  If you look further back, you will always be told that “that was one of Paul’s ideas.”  

Hafter concluded, “His legacy is all around us.  When you leave the meeting and drive home, you will see it.”