James (Jim) Farrell (SPC 1941-44)

February 16, 2021

Jim Farrell.

We are very sad to hear of the passing of one of our wonderful SPC supporters, James (Jim) Farrell (SPC 1941-44).

Jim was an active member of the College community, attending many St Patrick’s Day luncheons and was a regular of The Harp Old Boys Group that gathered for lunches at The Harp of Erin Hotel in Kew.
James Anthony Farrell, or Jim to his family and friends, passed away peacefully at 93 years of age on August 30, 2020.

Matriculation student Jim Farrell.

A boarder from Moyhu, Jim completed his matriculation at SPC and was a member of the Sodality of Our Lady. His family believe Jim’s time at St Pat’s provided an invaluable foundation for a lifelong career in education. Upon matriculating, Jim spent a year at Corpus Christi Seminary in Werribee, before studying teaching at Bendigo Teachers College, where he met Bonnie Ryan to whom he was married in 1949.

Just two weeks after cancer had claimed Jim’s second born David at 16 months, that Jim stepped into the fight of his own life against an aggressive cancer. Following months of unsuccessful treatment, and an increasingly dire prognosis, Jim and Bonnie’s prayers were answered in the form of an extraordinarily ambitious series of surgeries headed by world renowned Alan “The Vicar” Wakefield. In many respects a world first, the cancerous flesh of Jim’s lower face down to his chest was removed and the area was reconstructed from flesh that was grafted from his torso.

The recovery was extraordinarily gruelling and came with more hurdles. Jim had to learn to speak again through his new mouth and in time he rediscovered his magnificent speaking voice. Jim’s return to teaching was thwarted when the Education Department advised that his physical appearance might not be fit for the classroom. Eventually Jim was offered a teaching position at East Gippsland outpost, Cabbage Tree Creek.

In addition to holding down senior teaching roles and the demands of an ever-growing family, in his late 30’s Jim returned to study and qualified as an educational psychologist before a stint lecturing at Melbourne University. Jim went on to have a successful career at Victoria’s Catholic Education Office, where he held various leadership positions, mainly as an educational consultant, through to his late retirement at 70.

Jim’s son-in-law Thomas (Tucker) Cunningham boarded at the College in the 50’s, and grandsons Tom and Ben (College Captain 1999) Cunningham boarded in the 90’s. Until his passing, Jim was Peter MacCallum’s longest surviving cancer patient. For good reason he was a powerful advocate for the vital work of Peter Mac.

Jim is survived by 13 of his 16 children, 44 grandchildren and 42 great grandchildren (at last count). We thank Jim’s son Brendan for assisting with this tribute.

Jim Farrell in his Matriculation class photograph in the 1944 College Annual.