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Philadelphia Contractor Joseph R. Farrell Jr. Dies at Age 90

Fri May 06, 2011 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Joseph R. Farrell Jr. passed away peacefully April 20 in his residence at Haverford Estates in Bryn Mawr, Pa., with family members at his side. Mr. Farrell was a few days shy of his 91st birthday.

Mr. Farrell was born in Drexel Hill, Pa., and lived in the western suburbs of Philadelphia most of his life. Upon retiring, he moved to Florida and South Carolina before returning home to be close to his family. He is survived by his five children and seven grandchildren and one of his three sisters.

Mr. Farrell graduated from Upper Darby H.S. where he was an honor student and a member of the track team. He then graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1941, Magna Cum Laude with a degree in civil engineering and was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity.

Mr. Farrell served his country as an officer, a second lieutenant in the United States Army during World War II. He was stationed in Okinawa.

Mr. Farrell loved golf, crossword puzzles and cryptograms, was an avid reader, and held great interests in sports, politics, music and the performing arts. He spent his entire professional career as a construction executive in the family business, Joseph R. Farrell Incorporated, founded by his father in 1922. Mr. Farrell loved to talk about sports and politics, encouraging the next generation to get involved and make a difference in the way the country is run.

As a general contractor, the family business was known in Philadelphia for its values and business ethics, helping subcontractors grow their businesses and creating innovation with structural concrete form work systems.

Mr. Farrell and his father working with a local structural engineer, developed a system based on the principals of using standard lumber sizes, which reduced labor costs and helped gain the maximum reuse of lumber material, resulting in greater efficiencies and eliminated waste.

In the 1970s Mr. Farrell served on the board of directors and became the president of the General Builders Contractors Association (GBCA) in Philadelphia and he later went on to be the national president of the Association of General Contractors (AGC) of America.

During the 64 years in the family business, many diverse structures were built in the tri-state area; universities, health care facilities, schools, shopping malls, churches and classrooms. He always spoke with great pride of the superintendents and foremen who grew up in the family business and who lead the daily construction efforts in the field. He understood and believed in the value of teamwork.

Mr. Farrell felt very strongly about giving back to others and the communities he lived in. He attended the Roman Catholic Church frequently and became a Eucharistic Minister. He volunteered and sat on the board of directors of Delaware County Community College and was involved in various civic and community affairs. After retiring, he worked with the American Arbitration Association helping to resolve Construction disputes.

Mr. Farrell and his late wife Jeanne Moran Farrell raised their five children in Villanova, Pa. They were married at St. Denis Church in Havertown on April 17, 1948 (the first couple to be married there, the Church being built by Joseph R. Farrell Inc.). Jeanne Moran Farrell passed away on Aug. 31, 1985. He later married Constance Hawkins (nee Lydecker) who passed away in 1997. Connie is survived by her three children Rick, Dave and Lisa.

A true family man, Mr. Farrell lived his life based on the values he learned from his parents, Joseph and Antoinette Farrell.

Honor and integrity were the hallmarks of an unselfish man who enjoyed helping people from all walks of life. He would often recite from memory, the poem “IF” by Rudyard Kipling to his children. “IF” remains a true reflection of a man who believed every day was a gift and that we define our character by the way we live our lives, each and every day.

Father, husband, brother, cousin, uncle, grandfather, neighbor and friend, Mr. Farrell loved and respected life itself.

In lieu of flowers an offering in Mr. Farrell’s name to either Our Mother of Sorrows Church, 1030 N. 48th St., Phila., Pa. 19131 or to the American Cancer Society 1615 West Chester Pike, West Chester, Pa. 19380 would be appreciated.

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