Elizabeth B. Farley
Born: January 05, 1925 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: July 07, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Elizabeth B. Farley 1925 - 2017
Elizabeth B. Farley was always adventurous. She was the first in her immediate family to attend college. When she graduated, she ventured to New York City on her own after never having lived outside of Pennsylvania. And she ultimately began to work full time in the 1970s.
“I think it all reflected her hunger for a wider experience and her ambition and interest in a bigger world,” said Malcolm Farley, Mrs. Farley’s son.
Mrs. Farley, the former director of the Arboretum of the Barnes Foundation in Merion, died July 7 at Cathedral Village, a retirement community in Philadelphia. She was 92.
Mrs. Farley was known in the region for her work in botany. In addition to directing the Barnes Arboretum, she also served as the co-chair of the Philadelphia Flower Show’s Nomenclature Committee and sat on the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Library Committee.
It was Mrs. Farley’s adventurous side that enabled her to become involved with botany, as she pursued a career in the field despite having received a degree in political science from Bucknell University, Malcolm Farley said.
From 1981-83, she served as the director of the Barnes Arboretum, a 12-acre arboretum featuring trees and plant collections along with courses in horticulture, the science of growing plants. Mrs. Farley taught courses at Barnes, including ornamental horticulture, the history of plant exploration and discovery.
She also inventoried the arboretum’s plant collection, added to the plant collection, and revamped the school’s curriculum in her time at the Barnes.
“It was something she became really passionate about and ran with,” Malcolm Farley said of Mrs. Farley’s time at the Barnes.
Mrs. Farley volunteered for years at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, a nonprofit organization that offers programs and activities for gardeners. She served on the society’s Library Committee and answered questions on the society’s gardening hotline.
In her role as the co-chair of the Philadelphia Flower Show’s Nomenclature Committee, Mrs. Farley ensured that plant names submitted as entries for the show were accurate.
She also served as a board member of Bartram’s Gardens, a 46-acre botanical garden in Philadelphia.
Janet Evans, who worked with Mrs. Farley at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, described her as passionate about botany and generous in helping others who were interested in the subject.
“Elizabeth touched the lives of many people,” Evans said. “She was very encouraging to everyone who was interested in learning about horticulture and gardening in this area.”
Mrs. Farley is survived by two siblings: Caroline Busch of Hickory, N.C., and John Billhime of Montoursville, Pa,; and two sons, Martin B. Farley of Lumberton, N.C., and Malcolm Farley of Freeport, N.Y. Her oldest son, Jefferson M. Farley, died in 1980. She was married to the neurophysicist Dr. Belmont G. Farley for 53 years before he died in 2008.
Mrs. Farley’s burial will be private. Contributions in her memory can be made to Bartram’s Garden.