Jack Farley: In Memoriam

Inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame as a Builder, 1996.

Born February 23, 1933.  Died March 26, 2021.

Over the 55-year history of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, there have been a few special individuals who played critical roles in elevating the Hall’s mandate and profile while also ensuring the organization’s survival. Jack Farley is certainly one of those individuals. As a BC Sports Hall of Fame trustee from 1982 until 2006, he served the longest uninterrupted term of any Hall of Fame trustee in the organization’s history. During that term he served as the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame from 1992-93.

Jack encouraged many influential friends that he worked with from his time with the BC Lions to support the BC Sports Hall of Fame—Norm Fieldgate, Ron Jones, and Don Taylor in particular—and they, too, became long-term Board of Trustee members or staff. Working closely with the Hall’s curator/executive director Bob Graham, Jack spearheaded the effort to relocate the BC Sports Hall of Fame from its original BC Building location at the PNE to its current home at BC Place Stadium. In order to accomplish this, Jack volunteered countless hours leading a fundraising campaign that raised over $5 million to relocate, design, and build the most interactive and dynamic sports museum in North America at the time. It was a design that influenced sports hall design across the continent for the next decade.

The first phase of the new BC Sports Hall of Fame opened at BC Place in 1992. By 1995 the final two phases were complete and opened. But most don’t realize that Jack almost singlehandedly pushed this project over the finish line. In fact, when project costs had risen beyond the initial amount fundraised putting the completion of the new hall of fame in doubt—and the organization’s financial stability at risk—Jack held a closed door meeting inviting a select group of friends and colleagues who had the means to support the Hall of Fame in a significant way. He called on them to join him as part of the ‘Finish Line Team’, each donating $100,000 to raise the final $1 million needed to complete the project and set the Hall’s financial issues in line. And to convince them he was serious, he wrote the first $100,000 cheque himself on the spot and placed it down on the table in front of him. By the end of the short meeting, Jack had the $1 million the Hall needed and the BC Sports Hall of Fame was able to proceed and complete its’ new full 20,000 sq ft layout. That perhaps more than any other anecdote illustrates the high esteem Jack was held in the sport community and what he would do for this organization.

The BC Sports Hall of Fame held a special place in Jack’s heart, of that there is no doubt. He was inducted as a Builder in 1996 for his contributions to football and the sport community, an honour he considered among his proudest accomplishments, but you could see the Hall meant so much more to him. It was home for him. Home to friends. Home to treasured sports memories from his youth and from his own career. Home to some of the happiest moments and times of his life. Jack and wife Nancy were regulars at virtually every Banquet of Champions induction dinner for decades, as well as most every Hall of Fame event big or small. He remained a trusted advisor that current staff and board members could turn to for a few precious pearls of wisdom. Jack was also a dedicated nominator, nominating a large number of individuals who were later selected for induction into the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

For over twenty years, a youth sport scholarship named in Jack’s honour was awarded by the BC Sports Hall of Fame to two graduating high school students. Many thought Jack initiated the award himself, but it was actually created as a tribute to Jack by long-time friend Norm Fieldgate, who felt Jack deserved recognition for all the tireless work he had quietly undertaken behind the scenes for both for the BC Sports Hall of Fame and the BC Lions.

For years after stepping off the Hall’s board, he regularly stopped in to check on the Hall’s staff, to see what new projects were in the works. It would be a random Tuesday afternoon and Jack would walk in the Hall of Fame’s front door, smiling that warm smile of his and spreading that positive ‘can-do’ spirit that marked every conversation I can recall with him. Always encouraging and supportive, the level that Jack cared about this Hall of Fame and everyone who is part of it is hard to imagine, but when you were around him, it simply shone through. He will be greatly missed by the BC Sports Hall of Fame family and the larger BC sport community.

Written by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.