Getting to Know Susan Farr
Many people in the Missouri Conference knew Bob Farr well before he was elected Bishop and assigned to Missouri last summer. In his role as Director of Congregational Development, he visited more Missouri Conference churches than anyone in recent history. Fewer people know his wife, Susan, although she’s been a steadfast presence with him throughout his ministry from the very beginning.
Susan’s mother, Faye, was Native American, half Chickasaw and half Choctaw. Her mother was sent through the Indian boarding school system. Faye ended up at Haskell in Kansas where she met Susan’s father, Loyal George. The two wed, although Faye’s father, a Baptist minister, was not in favor of her marrying a white man. What goes around comes around, and when Susan and Bob were engaged, her parents didn’t think much of her marrying a Methodist.
Faye was one of seven children, and she was the only one who left the reservation. Growing up, Susan made frequent trips to Oklahoma to visit relatives. As a mother, she has maintained those ties to her heritage and passed them on to her children. The Farr’s children are citizens of the Chickasaw nation, and their grandchildren are as well. She has made trips with them to Oklahoma to keep them in touch with their heritage.
Susan and Bob have been a couple since high school, both growing up in the Creighton area. Both Susan and Bob attended school at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg.
“That was just where you went when you grew up around there,” she said.
While attending college, Susan took some time off to work as a teacher’s aide. The experience put an end to her indecision about a career path.
“That clinched it. I wanted to go into education,” she said.
It was a good career for being married to an appointive pastor. She went to school for elementary education with a specialty in math but found herself teaching 7–12 grade math in Celeste, Texas, while Bob attended seminary and pastored a church.
Upon moving back to Missouri, she took a job teaching middle school math and science at a private school. Next came Bingham Middle School, then Marlborough Elementary, following Bob’s appointments.
It was at Lone Jack where she made the shift from science and math to remedial reading, which she taught there for four years. She stuck with being a literacy specialist and coach when they made the move to St. Louis, first at Larimore in Hazelwood. Then Francis Howell. She now works at Becky-David Elementary.
“It seems the schools are more diverse now, and the students have more diverse needs,” she said. “I see the children of parents who are working multiple jobs. Unfortunately, it is the children who suffer. The parents often don’t know how important early childhood education is.”
Although her career has always been important to her, she also had the role of being a clergy spouse.
In the early days of her husband’s ministry, she was often called on to play the piano, but she prefers singing. She is currently a singer in the praise band at The Way, a United Methodist new church start in Wentzville. She loves all types of church music, and appreciates seeing how some of it is now coming full circle.
“I like how some churches are embracing old hymns by playing and singing them in new ways,” she said.
Bob and Susan’s son, Joe, is 32 and is married to Rachel. They have two children, Lucas, 5, and Zoey, 4.
Her daughter, Amy, is 29 and has plans to marry in the spring. The two children were in high school and middle school when Bob was moved from Grace in Lee’s Summit all the way across the state to Church of the Shepherd in St. Peters.
“There were a lot of tears at the time, but looking back years later, they both say the move was good for them,” she said.
Susan likes reading, working outside in her flower gardens and walking Kasey, their Springer Spaniel.
She has ridden with Bob on motorcycle trips as far as New Mexico and Canada. She loves camping in the RV trailer. “Maybe more than him,” she said.
Although she has been a clergy spouse for as long as she has been a spouse, now that Pastor Bob is Bishop Farr, she’s still getting used to the new role.
“It feels different, but I’m working my way into it,” she said.