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D. Franklin Farrar - Builder

Professor Emeritus Farra, who received his BE at Vanderbilt in 1939 and taught 33 years in Mechanical Engineering from 1942 until his retirement in 1976, died on August 15, 2000. The poem below, composed and read by Bob Lott (another VU pofessor of ME) at Franklin's 1976 retirement dinner, describes Farrar's contribution to VUME:

A tribute to Franklin Farrar. This is a tribute to a man I deeply respect and admire. A mechanical engineer and a professor who can truly inspire both students and colleagues to ûgive it a try,û by his actions and words of advice to ûmake it fly.û

whether it be principles and laws of nature or man, his wisdom and encouragement have helped others to decide, ûI can.û This fellow designed and built the lowest sink rate sailplane in the universe. And this same fellow piloted the beauty on her maiden traverse, to follow turkey buzzards on their way down from the sky - to learn the secrets of natue on how to soar and fly.

When he wanted a violin all his own, since he could't afford a Stradivarius without a large loan, he bought a six foot diameter curly maple tree - then cut it radially just the way it should be. He planned and whittled pieces to just the right size, as determined by acoustic tests the instrument to optimize. He fitted, glued, pressed and assembled his magnificent violin. Finally it was time for the music from master composers to begin.

This same gentleman produced music in tone so great that I was forced to admit - yes he was my office mate.

Sailboats nd sailplanes he built, to his design, a telescope, a house, a warehouse, a stave machine; all fine. These things he has produced from scratch in is spare time, so I would have the opportunity to present this rhyme.
A man so full of energy and life it seems that he is fully committed to accomplishing his dreams, while most of us poor mortal souls, put off, deny and claim beyond our controls.

The range, versatility and expertise of this man leaves others seeking added help while he says ûwe can.û he can teach, inspire motivate and develop thinking engineers, if we will but follow this man so respected by his peers.

Time goes by and most of us hve a tendency to age, but not this man - this unflagging ever wise sage. How it comes to pass that the system can conspire to think this gentleman can be permitted to retire is beyond my understanding, I must admit, for he seems too happy, too alert, too fit.

The alumni who returns to say hello, especially to this Professor will certainly understand that he cannot be replaced by a successor. He is unique, the only one of his kind, the husband of Sara, a gentleman, a scholar, a friend - our colleague, Professor Franklin Farrar.
—R. L. Lott, Jr. Spring 1976

For soaring Dr. Farrar wrote articles on the sailplane that used a helicopter rotor aifoil and on the performance of tow planes. He designed and flew the only american delta winger glider around 1950. He always had an interest in soaring ever since he saw a glider demonstration at Berry field in the 1930s.
—Bob Davis, SSA State Governor for Tennessee

Posted: 7/1/2002


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