LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — A memorial service was held in Lynchburg on Friday to honor Alfred Thomas Farrar — a World War II Tuskegee Airman and one of the first Black pilots in the U.S. Army — who died last week.
The service was held on the eve of what would have been Farrar’s 100th birthday.
As Thomas Current, President of the Lynchburg Area Veterans Council, explained, Farrar had a lot in common with Desmond Doss, another Lynchburg native and World War II hero.
“Both suffered discrimination. One of them based on his faith, and one of them based on the color of his skin. Both of them prevailed and are Lynchburg heroes, both of them.”
After the war, Farrar studied aerospace engineering and worked for the Federal Aviation Administration for 40 years.
His son, Roy Farrar, took a different path and became an English teacher. He remembered his excitement when he did well in math class, which, unlike his father, was not his forte.
“I told him about the a minus I had gotten in math,” said Roy, “and being the perfectionist and diligent studious person that he was, he wanted to know what the minus was about.”
Roy said his father was a quiet man, except for when his granddaughter Nia called.
“He has a picture of Nia at his desk,” said Joyce Farrar, Roy’s wife, “that he’s always looking at, every time. When he hears Nia’s voice on the phone, ‘Hey Nia! How you doing!?'”
Decades after the war, the Tuskegee Airman was on a flight when the pilot had a heart attack and the flight attendants asked if anyone could fly a plane.
“I don’t know what they would have done if nobody had said anything,” said Roy, “but my father was there and volunteered and flew this commercial jet into LaGuardia Airport without incident or injury, and then continued on his way home from the airport like nothing happened.”
Farrar was both brave and humble. In fact, he only told his son that story last year.
“That was the man,” said Roy. “That was him.”
Farrar was born on a farm in Big Island and grew up in Lynchburg. He attended New York University and lived and worked in New York throughout his career.
In 1983, he returned to Lynchburg and moved back in to his childhood home, where he passed away in his sleep on Dec. 17, 2020, just nine days before his 100th birthday.