SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
When Phillip and Loreen Farmer were married at the old St. Thomas Aquinas Parish on 35th and Brown in 1951, both brought a love of Catholic education to their marriage.
Born in Milwaukee, Phillip attended St. Thomas Aquinas School and graduated from St. Joseph Elementary School in Waukesha. From Brooklyn, New York, Loreen spent three years in a Catholic orphanage run by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Queens. She later attended St. Matthias Elementary, also in Queens. The Bavarian School Sisters of Notre Dame staffed the school.
According to Shirley Farmer, one of the couple’s six children, when the couple married, they were determined to also raise their children in the same faith held so dear to their hearts. Each child received Catholic primary education at Old St. Mary’s on 13th and Manitoba in South Milwaukee.
“This school is now part of Divine Mercy, which also includes St. Adalbert, St. John’s and St. Sylvester, all old South Milwaukee Catholic schools, until their closings,” said Shirley Farmer.
After Loreen died in 2011 and Phil this past July, the children sought to find a way to honor their parents’ memories but were unsure of the best mode do so.
“We thought of the one common thread we all had in common and that was Catholic primary education. We decided to fund an educational scholarship from the estate of our parents as a memorial to them for the primary grade school at Divine Mercy. These two unskilled people were able to save a little to pass on to us, and from that, we each donated, so we would be able to keep the fund going for quite a few years, even without fundraisers,” said Farmer. “We offer $500 per year and are actively fundraising through GoFundMe and other endeavors.”
To spread the word, the family printed flyers and handed them out to students as well as among parishioners in the parish. Farmer said she remembers seeing her father put whatever money he could into the collection basket at Sunday Mass and that served as payment for his children’s tuition.
“Now, there would be no possible way he could have sent his six kids to a Catholic grade school, so we offer this much to assist other families to have a Catholic primary education,” said Farmer. “Our plan is to continue to add to it. As of now, we offer the $500 per year to a student and family, and we leave it to Divine Mercy School to make the choice based on need.”
The family hopes to grow the scholarship fund and Farmer hopes to host several fundraising events. Recently, Andrea’s Restaurant on Packard Avenue in Cudahy has agreed to donate a percentage of the day’s receipts on July 22, the one-year anniversary of Phil’s death.
“We plan to get the word out for people to have a breakfast, lunch or dinner at Andrea’s on that day. We also hope people will consider donating to the GoFundMe we just started,” said Farmer. “We have done this to honor our parents. We know many people have had wonderful parents who also sent their children to these wonderful grade schools. It is to honor all these Catholic parents who in the mid 20th century, supported these parishes and their schools, to the best of their abilities, Phillip and Loreen Farmer being one of them.”
If You Want to Help
Divine Mercy School
695 College Ave.