Don Farnham has gotten a lot of ink in recent years in this newspaper. More, we guess, than he’d have ever imagined or sought.
A low-key fellow, the loudest thing we can associate with him is his fire engine red pickup truck. That, perhaps, points more to what an active person Don has been for the past nine decades. His actions speak louder.
In recent years, as he’s reconnected with the tumultuous time he spent in the U.S Marines and his experiences fighting on Iwo Jima, Farnham has become known around town as an honored World War II veteran.
A couple of years ago, he stood in the spotlight during one of Riverside’s Memorial Day services. The newspaper published a story about his experiences during the war, and even more recently, we published a short piece about a donation he’d made to the village — a flag that flew briefly above Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
While his service in the Marines was notable, Don has had a major impact on the way local government is portrayed and the way it interacts with residents. This is no small thing. Back in 1996, village government preferred operating the old way — if you wanted to know what was going on, you could show up to board meetings personally.
Don and Dr. Bob Novak, though, fought to get government in front of residents via a cable TV channel. Now those broadcasts are available not only on cable TV but also on YouTube and the Riverside TV (yes, its own network now) website. Any time of day, you can watch exactly how your local representatives are governing — not just the village board, but the township board and the District 96 school board.
Since 1996, except for a brief hiatus, Don has helped guide that vital local coverage, advocating its importance, expanding its reach and serving as a mentor for budding student broadcast journalists. It’s not a curiosity; it’s important.
Don will turn 91 this weekend, and he’s taking a step back from the village commission he helped create.
He’s leaving it in good hands, no doubt, but Don, contrary to his own opinion, will be missed.