John Neville Farmer
Professor John Neville Farmer died gently July 10, 2016 at Wake Robin Retirement Community, Shelburne, VT. He is survived by his wife Margaret (McQuarrie). They were married for 63 years. John was born to English parents on June 19, 1929 in Simla, India. His parents were Sydney John Farmer (S. J.) and mother Marjorie (Farmer) Farmer (Fink). His step-mother was Dr. Norma Dunning Farmer. S. J. joined the British Army in 1914 and was shipped to India serving the army in the Office of Military Accounts.
John became a world traveler at a young age, sailing to England twice by the time he was six. His grandmother Ethel Farmer cared for him until he was seven when he was enrolled in Brighton Preparatory School for Boys in 1936. Three years later as World War II began his father came to England to take him to Burma where the family lived until the start of the Japanese War. He and his mother escaped to India on a refugee ship. His father got out later bringing all the military accounting records with him–for this he was awarded The Order of the British Empire.
Shortly after settling in Kolhapur, India John’s mother asked for a divorce and his father obtained custody of their only child. John continued his education in more boarding schools and a military school but not before he had told his Dad that the doctor he had seen at the American hospital in town was a woman and beautiful. His dad checked her out. In 1943 S.J. married Dr. Norma
Dunning, the Director of the Presbyterian Mary Wanless Mission Hospital and she became John’s loving and ambitious mother. As WW II ended the three of them traveled to the United States on a sabbatical arriving August 2, 1945.
At 16, John’s scattered education, with no records, made it difficult for American schools to know how to place him. Eventually yet another boarding school was the solution. Kiskiminitas Springs School in western Pennsylvania was the answer and he did well with the five week, one course sessions they used. That helped him catch up in his math and science and shine in his history, literature and Latin.
John attended the College of Wooster, Wooster Ohio where he discovered Zoology late in his third year, changed majors, met Margaret and married her in 1952. He went on to graduate school at Iowa State in Ames, Iowa in 1953. He was drafted into the US Army and earned his American citizenship between his Masters and his PhD, which was completed in 1960.
He then taught at the University of Missouri for 19 years and became renowned for his ability to lecture to huge classes of 500 to 800 and earn the respect and affection of a great many of his students. In addition, he advised pre-meds and was the major professor guiding 13 PhDs and master’s students through their research and dissertations. He also received numerous awards for outstanding teaching while at Missouri.
After 19 years at MU, the University of Oklahoma beckoned. In Norman, OK, he continued to attract large numbers of students, lecturing twice a day to more big classes and continued as head of pre-med advising. Again he received many teaching awards with the most prestigious making him a David Ross Boyd Professor of Zoology. That honor was named after the first President of the University of Oklahoma who had graduated from of the College of Wooster, as John had.
John retired in 1995. He and Margaret stayed in Norman where they had a rich and active life in Oklahoma City and Norman for another 17 years. They moved to Shelburne, Vermont in 2013. Former Norman friends, Jo and Ted Herstand had introduced them to Wake Robin, a carefully planned and beautiful non-profit CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) in Shelburne. Leaving Norman was hard but they were happy to be close to their younger daughter Susan Bueti and her family. They joined a group of very active, interesting and interested residents. Finally, when John needed skilled care as he struggled with COPD, he was able to live in the skilled nursing section of the community just across the driveway from their apartment.
In addition to Susan, her husband Serafino (Sam) Bueti and their children Alessandra and Marcus, all of Waterbury, VT, John is survived by his daughter Johann Cutkomp, husband Jake (James) Cutkomp, their children Graham and Emma all of Iowa City, IA, as well as their son Steve Farmer (Steven John) and his wife Lyn of Phoenix, AZ, as well as their daughters Elizabeth Meyer, her husband Andrew Meyer and their three children Henry, John and Georgia of Lawrence, KS, and Stephanie Jo Farmer, husband Greg Finley and a baby girl on the way in St. Paul, MN.
There will be a Circle of Remembrance at Wake Robin to be announced later, and Margaret hopes that she will be able to gather in Norman, OK with many of their friends later in the year. Online condolences can be made through