11/14/05 — John Farfour, who introduced many in Goldsoboro to tennis, dies at 88

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John Farfour, who introduced many in Goldsoboro to tennis, dies at 88

By Turner Walston
Published in News on November 14, 2005 1:49 PM

Known as Goldsboro's "Mr. Tennis" and for his efforts on behalf of Wayne County's Boys & Girls Club, John Allen Farfour, died Sunday at Kitty Askins Hospice Center. He was 88.

Farfour, who operated a music and sports business for many years in Goldsboro, won the city tennis championship 21 times and was well-known in sporting circles across the state. He founded the Eastern Carolina Junior Tennis Open tournament in 1947, which is still held each year.

Farfour grew up in Wayne County, graduating from Goldsboro High School in 1935. As a student-athlete, Farfour lettered in basketball, baseball, tennis and boxing. He attended the University of North Carolina on a tennis scholarship before enlisting in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1977.

In 1946, Farfour began selling sporting goods and musical instruments.

Carl Steed remembered Farfour selling him his first tennis racket at the sporting goods store, Music and Sports, on Walnut Street. "I took an old racket my mother gave me up there," Steed said. "My mother told me gut strings were the best. He told me the racket wasn't worth putting strings in. He sold me a new racket."

"He's just been basically in charge of tennis in Goldsboro all these years," said Dr. Lee Adams, who ran the Goldsboro Boys Club tennis team with Farfour in the late 1950s and early 1960s. "His store was always the headquarters for tennis," Dr. Adams said. "That's where you go to talk tennis."

In 1947, Farfour was a member of the group that founded the Wayne County Boys Club, today the Boys & Girls Club of Wayne County. He served on the board of directors for more than 50 years, and was voted a lifetime member. In 1972, he received the Boys Club Bronze Keystone Award "for 25 years of devoted service."

Farfour received the National Medallion from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in December 2001.

"He (Farfour) will be missed with his leadership and all that he did for kids throughout the county," said Mary Ann Dudley, Boys & Girls Club executive director.

In 1979, Farfour was inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1989, he was elected to the Goldsboro High School Hall of Fame.

"He helped me and encouraged me to play tennis and play it the right way, with sportsmanship," Steed said. "He was just an ambassador of tennis throughout."

Last November, the Goldsboro Recreation and Parks Commission approved the naming of the tennis courts at Herman Park in Farfour's honor.

"Anybody who was involved in the game of tennis in this area knew of, or knew personally, Mr. Farfour," said Neil Bartlett, director of the Goldsboro Recreation and Parks Department. "He was so involved in the game of tennis not only in Goldsboro, but also throughout Eastern North Carolina."

Bartlett said Farfour was helpful in guiding the city recreation department.

"He was never too busy to come over and talk and share his wisdom," Bartlett said. "He was just a very, very, genuine and very courteous and fine individual."

Adams said Farfour played tennis as long as he was physically able.

"He went to the hospital two years ago having some chest pain, and the way I understand it, he told them to 'hurry up, he has a tennis match at 1 o'clock.'"

A rosary will be held Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Seymour Funeral Home Chapel. A wake service will follow at 7 p.m. The family will receive friends following the wake service.