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Veteran enjoys sharing stories, bringing smiles

You’d have to say he’s lived a pretty interesting life.

“I guess I’ve done a little of everything. Dug ditches, worked in a steel mill, plowed a mule, milked a cow, delivered mail, sold insurance, worked in a funeral home, served in the Army – even delivered a baby,” says John Farmer.

That’s right. Farmer, 91, once brought a bouncing baby into the world.

“I was one of the charter members of the Butler County Rescue Squad. One day, I received training in delivering babies. Not two weeks later, I had to do just that,” Farmer says with a shake of his head.

Born in Greenville, he went to live in Talladega at the Presbyterian Children’s Home when he was 11 following the loss of his parents.

“They worked you hard there. I drove the school bus there when I was 14. You didn’t have to have a special driver’s license back then,” he recalls.

He later joined the Army, and was all set for a nice furlough in December 1941.

“Then Pearl Harbor happened. I didn’t get to use a day of that furlough,” he says.

During WW II, Farmer served in the 80th Division of the 3rd Army under General George “Blood and Guts” Patton (“his guts, our blood”). He recalls the famed general as “smart as a whip.”

He was still in the Army when he married a pretty young lady named Sybil in Georgiana. Come May, the couple will celebrate 68 years together.

“We were married by the same pastor that married her parents, and they were married for 70 years. He knew how to tie a knot you can’t untie,” Farmer says with a twinkle in his eyes.

The most valuable lesson he has learned in married life? “Two words – ‘yes, dear.’ That way, you let her think she’s right and I still get in the last word,” he says with a smile.

Farmer has spent many years serving in virtually every position within the Masons (44 years) and Eastern Stars (54 Years) at Eureka Lodge. He’s helped prepare many a pot of their famed camp stew.

Troublesome knees slow him down these days. He is still able to share smiles, stories, and enjoy a round of dominoes with his fellow seniors at the Greenville Nutrition Center.

“He’s always got a blonde joke waiting for you,” laughs Cathy Brown, the center’s site manager.