Remembering Susan Farmer; damn Yankees; Cowsillsmania
Yes, these days are very sad at Casa Diablo as our dear friend and a true Rhode Island icon and hero, Susan Farmer, has passed on. P&J became friendly with “Muffy” (as we always lovingly called her) in the ’80s when she was the first woman elected to statewide office in the Biggest Little. She was Secretary of State for two terms and could have won the office handily for as long as she wanted, but she was convinced to run for lieutenant governor and lost a close election to Richard Licht in 1986.
While she was Secretary of State, she concocted “The Susan Farmer/Phillipe & Jorge Bowling Tournament for the Fund for Community Progress” that we held for a few years. It was great fun for a good cause and she was the guiding force behind it (not to mention a seriously competitive bowler).
Muffy’s competitiveness was visible not just in sports, but also as a candidate for public office. Jorge remembers going to her house on Lloyd Avenue, where she took J. into the basement to see campaign signs and posters from her various opponents that she had painted mustaches and funny inscriptions on.
After serving as Secretary of State, Muffy was asked to run Rhode Island’s public television station, WSBE-Channel 36, now known as RI-PBS. At the time, a number of folks who seemed to know nothing about her talents and leadership abilities complained that this was some sort of “political payoff.” Your superior correspondents wrote at the time that people had no idea how perfect she was for that job. They said she had no experience in broadcasting but, as we pointed out, Rhode Island public television didn’t need a “broadcast veteran” to run the station. What it needed was a visionary leader and someone who knew how to increase fundraising at a station that was lacking it. We guarantee you that Rhode Island public television would have died right then and there if not for her inspiring leadership. Most likely it would have been swallowed up by Boston’s WGBH and ended up a poor imitation of Boston’s public TV if it weren’t for her bold and successful leadership. She got money and championed new and innovative programming like the first LGBT-themed broadcast shows in Rhode Island, Out In the ’90s and The Company We Keep, both hosted by Sean Bresnahan. Talk about “ahead of the curve.”
Muffy continued to be active in public and community affairs right up until the time of her passing this week. Her record is long and glorious. And here’s another talent: she was a great cook. P&J would sometimes have dinner with Mac and Muffy. She would prepare a great feast, and then encourage us to tell stories for hours so we could laugh and laugh and laugh.
Phillipe and Jorge were honored to call her our friend. We can’t tell you how much we will miss this amazing and inspiring woman.
Rest in peace, Muffy. You earned it.