William H. Farmer, former owner of the Farmer Press, died on Thursday, May 23, 2019, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He was 101.
He was born on April 4, 1918, in Rochester. He was the last living sibling of six children, including Francis Farmer Sr., Edith Allen, Clifford Farmer, Helen Brown and Clarence Farmer Sr.
He spent much of his first six years playing in woods near the Ohio River in a small community. At the age of 6, he moved to Philadelphia to live with his Aunt Minnie.
Farmer attended George Smith Grammar School and Barrat Junior High School, then graduated from Central High School, at the time one of the most prominent public high schools in the country. For two years after high school, he worked for the Union League as a billiards caddy.
Farmer enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1938 and worked his way up to first lieutenant.
After being discharged from the Army, Farmer became a Mason with the Richard Allen Lodge. During this period, his brother Clifford was working for a small printing company and persuaded Clarence and William to start a family business.
The small family-owned business became the largest minority printing company in the Tri-State area. After several years of working together, Clifford branched off and started his own printing company on 57th and Vine Street. A few years later, Clarence decided to begin a life in politics and centralize himself in Center City.
Farmer continued to run the business, Farmer Press Inc., and devoted his life to printing in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. He worked as a printer for 67 years until he retired in 2005.
Farmer Press has printed posters for the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Cab Calloway and Jackie “Moms” Mabley and tickets for the Philadelphia Parking Authority. The print shop has also done work for more than 100 churches, many undertakers and businesses in Philadelphia. The company served North, West and South Philadelphia and surrounding areas.
Farmer had three wives — Helen, who he met and married shortly after his service years; Madeline, a schoolteacher; and Eleanor, a secretary at the Church of the Advocate.
He is survived by his nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A memorial mass was held June 29 at 1 p.m. at the Church of the Advocate, 1801 Diamond St.
Jackmon Funeral Home handled the arrangements.