William "Bill" Farmer

  • Funeral Date: 4/14/17
  • Funeral Time: 10 AM
  • Date of Birth: 1/04/36
  • Date of Death: 4/11/17
  • Funeral Location: Northfield United Methodist Church

William Edward Farmer was born on January 4, 1936, in Fisher, IL, to Earl and Alma (Humphrey) Farmer. He was raised in Champaign, IL, and graduated from Champaign High School in1953. He joined the Navy later that year and served in the Seabees in both Spain and Africa. Following his honorable discharge, Bill moved to Danville, IL and worked as a Sunbeam bread delivery man and Prudential insurance salesman. He moved to Chicago in 1959 and went to work in the wholesale food industry for IGA. Bill married Patricia Smith on June 18, 1960, at First Baptist Church in Danville, IL. Taking a promotion as Vice President of Marketing and Procurement with Fairway Foods, the family moved to Woodbury, MN in 1971. They moved to Northfield, MN in 1975 when Bill was put in charge of opening a new facility for Fairway Foods. In 1978, he became President of Fairway Foods. During his tenure he grew the business from $60 million in wholesale sales to over $600 million at the time of his retirement. Bill retired in 1999 after 21 years as President of Fairway Foods. Not content in retirement, Bill opened the Northfield Radio Shack store with his wife and son in addition to managing numerous local real estate investments with his “free time”. Bill was a member of the Northfield United Methodist Church, and served on the boards of the Minnesota Grocers Association, the National Grocers Association, the National Wholesale Grocers Association, the Land O’Lakes Company, and the Sure Fine Label Company. Bill thoroughly enjoyed reading mystery crime novels and driving his 1969 Camaro pace car around town. Bill was a member of the Northfield Golf Club, spending many hours playing golf and spending time with his friends. To Bill, family, talking business, cars, golf, and his grandchildren were the things he was most passionate about.

Bill passed away on April 11, 2017, at the age of 81. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Patricia; three children: Michael (Diane) of Broomfield, CO, Lori Farmer, and Bill Jr. (Kris) both of Northfield, MN; five grandchildren: Cristina of Oakland CA, Royce (Tahira) of Huntington Beach, CA, Hannah of Scottsdale, AZ, Sydney, and Gabriel Farmer of Northfield, MN, and sister-in-law Carol Farmer, other family members, and many friends. He was preceded in death by his sister Edna Mae Powell, his brother Marvin and his parents.

A celebration of Bill’s life will be held on Friday, April 14, 2017 at 10 a.m. at the Northfield United Methodist Church, Rev. Rachel McIver Morey presiding. Interment with military honors will be at Oaklawn Cemetery, Northfield, MN. Visitation will take place 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, April 13, 2017 at the Bierman Funeral Home, Northfield, and will continue one hour before the service at the church.

One comment

  1. Frank Betchkal (MarketPlace Foods) Wisconsin

    Bill was one of the most honest, upstanding and genuine people that I have ever met. I’m sure Bill will be missed by so many that had the privilege of knowing and working with him as I had.