Jef Farmer, accompanied by his wife, Dianne Moore Farmer, receives his Hall of Fame Pride of Decatur Central Award in 2019 from Decatur Central Superintendent Jeff Prusiecki and friend and Hall of Famer Dave “Doc” Rather.
(PHOTOS COURTESY OF RICK MOORE)
Consider this an open letter to the MSD Decatur Township School Board:
This is an idea I find quite worthy, as the man to whom this is dedicated is very deserving.
Not that Jef Farmer doesn’t already have honors and memories.
Farmer, a standout multisport athlete who graduated from Decatur Central High School in 1963, has literally left it all out there when it comes to Decatur Township athletics.
He pretty much did it all after graduation, starring in football at Murray State University in Kentucky, then turning pro, beginning with training camp for the Detroit Lions and including “minor league” stints with the Indianapolis Caps and Michigan Arrows.
After that, he set up his businesses – Capitol Oil and Hoosier Equipment Services – in Decatur Township. The former venture also sponsored his softball team, which won national senior championships.
Through it all, Farmer keeps giving back to his alma mater, and all the other schools under the MSD Decatur umbrella.
“He’s truly a giver and not a taker,” says Dave Oberle, who like Farmer, is a member of DC’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Oberle hired Farmer as one of his basketball assistants before retiring.
“He’s six years older than me,” Oberle noted. “When I was in elementary school, he was my idol. I had more fun coaching when he was with me.
“What did he bring to the staff? When I would chew somebody out, he would lift them back up. If a kid missed the bus, he would take them home and feed them.
“He gave more to Decatur Township kids than anybody I know of. He would buy them shoes. He was always there to pick up the pieces. The kids loved coach Farmer. He’s a great friend to me. He was very loyal. I had a lot of assistants. Every one was loyal to me.”
In the 1970’s, the Marwood Optimist Club recognized the need for a program to develop Decatur Township boys for football. Farmer was among the driving forces that organized the youth football program that is still going today. Jef and his brother Ralph coached for many years.
When Farmer was inducted into DC’s Hall of Fame in 2019, complements came flying via social media.
“The best coaches I ever played for,” Tim Pugh said of Jef and Ralph Farmer. “I still think of those fifth- and sixth-grade teams. Both great men and better role models!”
And this from Karen Phillips:
“Jef, you were one of just a few guys that supported girls’ athletics before it was cool. I have deep respect for you and all you have done.”
Jef Farmer does not do this alone.
Jef and his wife Dianne Moore Farmer, a 1970 Decatur grad, have donated thousands of dollars of financial assistance. They purchased clothes and shoes for athletes that couldn’t afford them. Jef also spent decades coaching youth boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball and softball programs.
So here’s a thought:
Why not add his name to the list of greats whose names dot the DC campus?
People like Devere Fair, for whom the football stadium is named. Dick Collins, whose name graces the Hawks’ softball diamonds. Phil Webster, who led DC to its first official team championship by directing the Hawks to the 2008 Class 4A (big schools) baseball championship. Dave “Doc” Rather Gymnasium, named for another who gave it all to DC as an adult.
So how about this: name the actual football field at Devere Fair Stadium “Jef Farmer Field?”
This is not a novel approach. Other places have done the same. Or, since he was involved in everything, the “Jef Farmer Athletic Complex.”
I know that’s a lot.
But here’s another thought from Dave Oberle:
“He’s helped many, many, many, many kids,” he said of Farmer. “Whatever honors he earns, whatever his legacy, he’s deserving of all he gets.”
(SOUTHSIDER VOICE PHOTO BY STEVE PAGE)