Alumni couple finds family fun in show dogs

Author: Jill Holthaus

Published Date: 11/12/2018

Categories: Alumni


Alumni couple Marv and Mary Farwell


Inside the Lake Forest, Ill. condo of Marv ’57 and Mary ’58 (Rickert) Farwell, images adorn the walls of their home in beautifully framed artist renditions of their Flat-Coated Retrievers, who have taught the family the love of canine companionship.


“Dogs are a member of the family, like fur kids. Between kids and grandkids you have dogs,” Marv said.

The couple met while attending Carroll, where Marv studied business and Mary majored in education. Married in 1958, the Farwells had four children. Marv worked at six different companies specializing in telecommunications, manufacturing and human resources, including his own training and development firm that he ran for 13 years before he retired at age 79. After Carroll, Mary worked both as a teacher and a librarian, enjoying the latter job for more than 25 years. She also retired in her 70s.

Outside of their professional lives and day-to-day work, the family took a keen interest in showing Flat-Coated Retrievers. It started when their son, Todd, at age 14, asked his parents for a show dog. Mary, who enjoyed benched dog shows during her childhood, embraced the idea as did Marv.

“We started going to shows in the Chicago area. We saw a group of black dogs with waggy tails and we were smitten,” Mary said.

Velvet and Major were the first of the breed, who started the tradition, and produced over 20 champions. 

Together, the family embarked on a common interest that would take them to shows across the country and even a visit to Good Morning America, where one of their show dogs, Zeus, appeared on camera with Diane Sawyer. They chatted with her off camera. Zeus received Best in Group at the Westminster Dog Show in 2001. Best in Group is one of the final seven categories of dogs that stand for Best in Show.

“We have had some wonderful experiences. We met wonderful people with the dogs. Dogs were the conduit,” Marv said.

The family has shown Flat-Coated Retrievers continuously since 1985, traveling nationwide to various regional and national shows.

Many of Marv’s family experiences during shows served as icebreakers as he conducted business and helped to build relationships. He thinks back to his days at Carroll as he reflects on his business experiences and said, “I could think through problems and solve them. It was more of a reflection of a process we went through at Carroll.”


As they considered that sentiment along with their resulting success in business, the couple considered ways in which they could support their alma mater. They chose a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA), which enabled them to make a one-time gift, which they could use as a tax deduction, and receive lifetime payments from this gift. Now that Marv and Mary are both retired, they enjoy knowing that the charitable gift annuity enables them to have a consistent income, supplementing their current retirement income. 



Marv said, “We had a good year, good bonus, and decided to do something to be helpful for Carroll.”

The Farwells look back on their days at Carroll and realize, “We could not have done the things in life we did without Carroll,” Marv said.