Patricia S. "Patty" Farber, a former private school art teacher and volunteer who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro when she was in her 60s, died May 10 of lung cancer at her home in Brewster, Mass. The longtime Towson resident was 87.
"We got to know the Farbers through the Gilman School connection because our kids were there, and we did a lot of things together," said Richard W. Sunderland, a longtime close friend of Mrs. Farber and her husband. "Patty was a wonderful person and so full of life. She was so gracious and outgoing."
The daughter of Joseph Patrick Stokes, who was superintendent of Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s rolling mill at Sparrows Point, and Pearl Monteverde Stokes, a homemaker, Mary Patricia Stokes was born in Baltimore and spent her early years in Sparrows Point. In 1942, her family moved to Cub Lane in Towson's Fellowship Farm neighborhood.
Mrs. Farber graduated in 1944 from Mount St. Agnes High School and then completed two years of college at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., before returning to Baltimore.
In 1946, she married Dawson Lycurgus Farber Jr., and they lived in Loch Raven Village. They moved in 1950 to a converted barn on Chestnut Avenue in West Towson, where she raised her six children.
Mrs. Farber was 37 when she earned a bachelor's degree in 1963 in art history from what is now Notre Dame of Maryland University.
"She was the personification of the adage, 'If you want something done and done right, give the task to a busy person,' " said a son, Peter S. Farber of Chatham, Mass.
Mrs. Farber taught during the 1960s and 1970s at the old Blue Bird School in Ruxton and Gilman School.
"What a magnificent person Patty was, and what a remarkable couple were Dawson and Patty," wrote Redmond C.S. "Reddy" Finney, who was Gilman headmaster from 1968 to 1992, in a letter to Mrs. Farber's family.
"We will always remember them and think of all they did for and meant to Gilman School and the total community. Without any exaggeration whatsoever, I can say without qualification that they were one of the most wonderful couples we have ever known," wrote Mr. Finney.
Mrs. Farber and her husband, who was a National Brewing Co. executive and later president of G. Heileman Brewing Co., purchased property in 1956 on Cobb's Pond in Brewster on Cape Cod. They built a gambrel house, where they spent summers until moving there permanently in 2005.
For many years during the summer, Mrs. Farber, who was an inveterate sailor along with her husband, directed the junior program at the Orleans Yacht Club in Massachusetts. She also often crewed with her husband and several sons, who sailed from the Chatham Yacht Club on Cape Cod.
Mrs. Farber had been a longtime volunteer at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland Historical Society and Towson Library, where she founded the Friends of the Towson Library. On Cape Cod, she was an active member of the Brewster Ladies Library and Brewster Historical Society.
Mrs. Farber and her husband, who died in 2005, were world travelers and had visited Europe, Asia, Scotland, Russia, China, Australia and New Zealand.
In 1994, when she was 67, Mrs. Farber and her longtime friend and tennis partner, Helen B. Lacy, who was 57, planned a two-week safari to Africa, which included a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro.
"We were so naïve, and just decided to see if we could do it. We practiced by climbing the steps at what is now Johnny Unitas Stadium at Towson University," Mrs. Lacy said with a laugh. "On Kilimanjaro, we climbed seven or eight hours a day. Normally, it takes three days to reach what is fittingly called Gilman's Point, but we took a fourth day in order to get acclimatized."
In an interview with the Towson Times at the time, Mrs. Farber said, "We were just two dumb broads. We were lucky every step of the way. We met great people and we lucked into a great group."
The two friends, who endured freezing weather and altitude sickness, often had to start climbing at 1:30 a.m. over trails illuminated by moonlight. In the first two days, the woman traversed 20 miles over rocky trails.
"My legs felt like spaghetti. I wasn't ready for anything like that," Mrs. Farber told the newspaper.
Two years after successfully climbing 18,638 feet to reach Gilman's Point, the two women tackled Machu Picchu in Peru, which is a climb of 7,972 feet.
"She was such a talented and gifted person. She was just an amazing woman," said Mrs. Lacy. "She was a good cook, a talented artist, a great tennis player and so humble. Patty didn't have a mean bone in her body."
A celebration of Mrs. Farber's life will be held at 1 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Orleans Yacht Club, 39 Cove Road, Orleans, Mass.
In addition to her son, Mrs. Farber is survived by four other sons, Dawson L. Farber III and Michael C. Farber, both of Orleans, Jonathan E. Farber of Owings Mills and Mark D. Farber of Brewster; a daughter, Lorinda F. Routon of Henniker, N.H.; a brother, Mark Stokes of Baltimore; 15 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun