Memorials

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Lee Riley
Darlene Anderson
George Farha

 

 

  

Lee Riley's gifts to Wichita State were made with great affection and gratitude

The retired geologist believed his university years shaped and enriched his entire life

While reflecting on why Wichita State University mattered so much to her father, Claudia Jean Dunlap characterized Lee Riley’s regard eloquently and completely:

Lee Riley in 2005, sitting on a bench behind the Marcus Welcome Center. The bench bears the names of him and his wife, Carolyn.
Lee Riley in 2005, sitting on a bench near the Marcus Welcome Center. The bench bears the names of him and his wife, Carolyn, in recognition of his donation to help build the Marcus Welcome Center.

    “Wichita State is where my father met his one and only love, my mother, Carolyn McMahon Riley,” Dunlap said. “WSU was responsible for turning his life around and providing him with an education and a career in geology. The library was especially important to him. Libraries on college campuses were a focal point for all of us who came before the ease of doing research on a computer. I believe we all would like to show appreciation to those who impacted our lives in a positive manner. WSU was that institution that made all of the difference in my father's life, both in work and love.”

    Mr. Riley, a lifelong supporter of Wichita State, died on Dec. 23 at his home in Oklahoma City. He was 95.

    A 1942 graduate of the University of Wichita, Mr. Riley’s generosity through the years was enormous. He established the Lee and Carolyn Riley Endowed Scholarship in 2006, supplementing it each year since with substantial gifts. The general scholarship assists about five students each academic year.

    Mr. Riley demonstrated his high regard for WSU libraries by creating the Lee and Carolyn Riley Distinguished Graduate Assistantship for University Libraries in 2005. He and his wife also established the Lee and Carolyn Riley Endowment, which helped furnish the entrance of Ablah Library and funded other furniture and equipment needs. In recognition, the library foyer was named in their honor.

    “Lee was dedicated to supporting the facilities and services of the University Libraries for many years,” said Don Gilstrap, dean of University Libraries. “Coming from a very humble and hard-working upbringing, Lee always believed that someone had given him a chance to be able to go to WSU and become a college graduate. In the same manner, he felt he should continue that legacy and pay it forward for current generations of WSU students.”

    Mr. Riley also contributed to the building of the Marcus Welcome Center in 2005 and to the Ablah Library expansion project in 2008. In 2012, he was recognized by the WSU Foundation for reaching the highest giving level in the Fairmount Society, Lifetime Achievement, reserved for those giving $1 million or more over a lifetime.

    Mr. Riley was born on Oct. 3, 1918. He lived with his sister, Lucile Riley Hill, in Wichita while attending the University of Wichita. He graduated in 1942 with a bachelor’s degree in geology. While in college, he met Carolyn McMahon. They wed in 1942 and were married for 56 years, until her death in 1998.

    After serving in World War II, Mr. Riley worked for Carter Oil Company in Wichita, then transferred to Ardmore, Okla., in 1948. He was district manager when Carter Oil became a part of Humble Oil and Refining Co., which evolved into Exxon in the early 1970s. Mr. Riley became an independent geologist in 1970.

    He was active over the years in civic and community organizations and was a passionate supporter and docent at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

    Mr. Riley is survived by his four children and their families.

    His death has saddened his WSU family, said Mike Lamb, vice president for planned and annual giving for the WSU Foundation.

    “I called on Lee last summer at his home to express appreciation for his past support,” Lamb said. “But it was Lee who expressed thankfulness for his WSU experiences.”

    Lamb added: “Lee’s legacy will live on in the lives of the students who start their WSU journey in the admission offices in the Marcus Welcome Center, who receive the Riley scholarship and who study in the Ablah Library he helped support.”

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For Darlene Anderson, investing in students was both a duty and a pleasure

With her husband, Mrs. Anderson supported more than 35 students with financial aid


Darlene Anderson’s life was a celebration of education.

    A wife, mother and nurse who held two degrees, including a Master of Education from Wichita State, Mrs. Anderson and her husband, Bob, established 20 scholarships and fellowships supporting WSU students over the past 25 years.

Darlene and Bob Anderson
Darlene and Bob Anderson were honored in 2010 with the WSU Foundation’s Fairmount Founders Award, which recognizes commitment to education and a vision of excellence.

    “As Christians, we are commanded to be good stewards of our finances,” Mrs. Anderson said in 2010, when the WSU Foundation bestowed its Fairmount Founders Award on the Andersons. “It has given us great pleasure to invest in the education of students now and for years to come.”

    Mrs. Anderson died on Jan. 14 after a short illness. She was 82.

    With her husband at her side, Mrs. Anderson was a regular fixture at WSU basketball, baseball and volleyball games, as the couple held season tickets for all three sports. They also regularly visited the Heskett Center on the WSU campus to swim, and they frequently audited classes as part of a lifelong pursuit of learning. They rarely missed one of the WSU Foundation’s scholarship events, held so that scholarship donors and their student recipients could become acquainted.

    The scholarships Mrs. Anderson and her husband endowed helped students in several colleges – Health Professions, Education and the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – as well as student athletes in a variety of sports.

    Though their giving to Wichita State was substantial, it cannot be quantified just monetarily, said Mike Lamb, vice president for planned and annual giving for the WSU Foundation.

    “The essence of their philanthropy was found in the motivation for their giving, their deeply held passion for supporting WSU students pursuing their dreams,” Lamb said. “This core belief was reflected in a conversation I had with Darlene several years ago. With their enjoyment of Shocker baseball, I asked Darlene why they didn’t travel to watch the team on an upcoming trip to play in Hawaii. Darlene responded that for what it would cost to go on the trip, they could fund another scholarship. The Andersons’ support was intentional and meaningful to both their student recipients and to Darlene and Bob.”

    The couple’s giving also has included the All American Club, Shocker Golden Girls, Roundhouse Renaissance and the Marcus Welcome Center. With her husband, Mrs. Anderson was a member of the WSU Foundation’s Society of 1895 and a Life Member of the Fairmount Society. Mrs. Anderson was a WSU Alumni Association Life Member and served on the “We are Wichita State” campaign cabinet.

    Mrs. Anderson grew up on a farm in Iowa. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Iowa, where she met her future husband. After she and Bob moved to Wichita, Mrs. Anderson worked for 24 years as a nurse for the Wichita school district before retiring in 1991.

    She and Bob were marred for 62 years and had three sons, Stephen, Kevin and Brian. Now retired, Bob was a faculty member for the WSU College of Education for 25 years. Members of their extended family, including all three sons, hold 12 degrees from Wichita State.

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George Farha counted Wichita State among his many life interests

The influential surgeon supported the arts, athletics and more at WSU

George Farha had many passions in his long life — his family, his church, his patients and the Wichita community chief among them. But there always was room in his schedule and in his heart for Wichita State University.

George Farha
With his wife, Brenda, George Farha supported Wichita State University for more than 20 years.

    His love of education may have had something to do with his generous support of Wichita State. A good physician, he once said, is a permanent learner. He helped create the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita in 1972 and, as chief of surgery, taught thousands of students there through the years.

    Dr. Farha died on Jan. 7, leaving a legacy felt broadly and deeply throughout Wichita, his adopted home. He was born in Lebanon, the seventh of eight children, and came to America in 1950 to attend college and medical school.

    He and his wife of 53 years, Brenda, have supported WSU for more than 20 years. They established the George and Brenda Farha Endowed Fellowship in Opera and contributed to projects such as the Plaza of Heroines, the president’s home addition and a variety of fine arts programs.

    They also made substantial gifts to athletic programs and to the Shocker Athletic Scholarship Organization. Dr. Farha served on the SASO board of directors, including as its president, for many years.

    In 2012, he and Brenda were among a group of donors who helped bring renowned opera singer Samuel Ramey to Wichita State through the creation of a guest artist-in-residence program in the College of Fine Arts. 

    Though not a graduate of Wichita State, Dr. Farha was a life member of the WSU Alumni Association, as was Brenda, who now serves on the WSU Foundation National Advisory Council. In 1981, the couple received the Alumni Association’s Recognition award. They were also life members in the WSU Foundation Fairmount Society.

    Dr. Farha and his brother, S. Jim Farha, founded Wichita Surgical Group in 1963. When they retired in 1998, the practice — renamed Wichita Surgical Specialists — honored them by establishing the George and S. Jim Farha Premedical Student Endowed Scholarship at Wichita State.

    “Dr. George was an icon for our community,” said Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the WSU Foundation. “He epitomized what the Great American Dream was all about. And he did it in Wichita, Kansas. His support of Wichita State athletics and the fine arts, particularly opera, will yield benefits for years to come.”

    After attending Tulane University School of Medicine, Dr. Farha moved to Wichita, where he met Brenda Farha. They married in 1960 and had four daughters, Gayle, Joan, Laura and Julie.

    Dr. Farha’s compassion and respect for his patients was well-known. He often said, “Patients don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

    A member of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral, Dr. Farha generously supported his church and served as vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America for more than 10 years.

    He also was involved in various community organizations in Wichita.

 

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