John Patrick Farrell sailed away on his final voyage on May 3, 2022, at the age of 76 following a brief illness.
John was born on October 24, 1945 to Raymond “Bud” Farrell and Virginia Leonard Farrell in Oxnard, CA. He was the fifth of seven children born into the Farrell family. A country boy from birth, he was raised in Camarillo on the family ranch, a 150-acre walnut farm near the Calleguas and Conejo Creeks. He was a bright, curious, and adventurous towhead, whose white-blond hair was easily seen from the kitchen window where his mother would watch her little “Chief White Feather” venture off into the “wilds" of the ranch. These “wilds” extended beyond the ranch into the then rural town of Camarillo. Camarillo was a different town then with only about 5000 residents, mostly farming families. John was a very resourceful child who would please his mother, Virginia, with vegetables he grew in his garden and eggs from the chickens he tended. He, along with his sister Ginny and brother Charlie, started a rock club. They had meetings to discuss who would gather the “precious” stones and who would wash and clean them to determine their value. Minutes were taken of the meetings and dues were collected. Charlie, the youngest was always late with his dues and it was noted in the ledger.
In 1958, the Farrell family moved from the ranch to Ventura, where John started middle school. Coming from a small town and the very small school of St Mary Magdalen, he was teased quite a bit because of his rolled-up Levi's. It would be surprising if he didn’t influence all the other boys to follow suit. After middle school John attended Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai, where he met many friends, some of them good friends for life. It was also during this time he met an Ojai girl, Susan DeShan, the love of his life and future wife.
After high school, John attended the University of Portland where, in his indominable way, proceeded to organize a football team as the college didn’t have one. They called themselves “Los Pecadores” and as legend has it, the games were played against each other and ended with celebrations and copious amounts of cerveza. John’s time at Portland was short lived and was politely asked to leave. In 1966 he joined the US Marine Corps reserve where he served six years. According to John, “he enlisted as a PFC and was discharged six years later a PFC". While in the reserves he attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. An avid reader of history and non-fiction, he graduated with a BA majoring in English Literature.
John and Susan started a family and, in 1974 when his father Bud passed away, John moved his small family back to the family ranch in Camarillo where he oversaw the farming operation for his mother. During this time John, Virginia, and Charles were left with the responsibility of running and operating the Channel Islands Marina and Calleguas Ranch. They worked together at the marina for over thirty years.
Johns' true passion was the sea. Starting in the 1970’s, he commercially fished for rockfish, halibut, mako shark, swordfish, albacore, lobster among others. While he reveled in catching all fish, nothing could compare with the thrill he got “sticking a swordfish”. He loved sword fishing so much that he signed every letter or birthday card with a drawing of a swordfish and flag instead of an actual signature. It became his trademark signature. In the early 1990’s, he was joined by his wife, first mate and galley chef extraordinaire Susan. She fished at his side for over 30 years. Throughout their long fishing career, John and Sue travelled on FV Scorpio from San Diego to Oregon, culminating in John’s childhood dream to captain his own boat to Alaska, an incredible journey of over 2500 miles, and back again to Ventura. Truly the journey of a lifetime.
More than his love of the sea and adventure, John loved his family the most. He loved his children and grandchildren immensely. He never missed an opportunity to take his family and friends fishing or diving. Epic fishing adventures on FV Scorpio were shared by many! He enjoyed spending time with his six grandchildren, getting to know each of them. He would rarely miss a soccer or basketball game, swim meet or water polo game when his grandkids were competing. They always knew “Papa’ would be there in the front row cheering them on or standing on the sidelines giving them a “thumbs up”.
John was a runner, competing and finishing several 10k events and the Ventura Marathon. He became a pilot and flew Cessnas and Citabrias. He was a horticulturist and propagated many dozens of cymbidiums and plumerias, gifting many. He loved to philosophize on how to make the world a better place and enjoyed sharing wild stories, or surprising his grandchildren from around corners. If you were teased by John, you knew you were loved (especially about his refrigerator). His boundless energy and warmth helped him find ways to entertain his grandchildren by designing outdoor projects, regaling them with stories of Felix the Cat, playing an endless game of “tag” or devising legendary treasure hunts for the kids around the ranch.
John was a dearly loved husband, father, grandfather (Papa) brother and uncle. He was a prankster, storyteller and the soul of the family. He is survived by his wife Susan, (Nana) son Martin Farrell and daughter in law Camille Farrell, daughter Laura Kaufman and son in law Dennis Kaufman, daughter Virginia Farrell and his grandchildren Logan, Sean and Olivia Farrell, Trevor and Brigit Ayers, and Tyler and Dylan Kaufman. He was the patriarch of our family and his tragic passing is devastating. He leaves behind his surviving brothers James, Martin, Peter, and Charles, sister Virginia Hunt, and many nieces and nephews, cousins and dear friends. He is preceded in death by his brother Michael Farrell.
John and his generation represent the best of a bygone era in Ventura County. To us he will always be out at sea. Rest in peace John Patrick Farrell.
Here’s to a long life and merry one
A quick death and an easy one
A pretty wife and an honest one
A cold beer and another one!
There will be a celebration of John’s life June 25th.