WATERLOO REGION – Roger Farwell, architect, community builder and steadfast champion of the area’s arts and charitable sectors, died Wednesday evening in a single vehicle crash in Wellesley Township.
Regional police said the collision occurred on the William Hastings Line just east of Millbank shortly after 8 p.m. when a Toyota SUV pulled off the road on a bend. Farwell was 68 years old.
His career with the Walter Fedy Partnership, now WalterFedy, began in 1978 after studying architecture at the University of Waterloo.
As a Senior Associate he has been involved in countless projects across the region, from the Waterloo Regional Police Headquarters and Waterloo Region Catholic Education Center to the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum, the Cambridge Campus of Conestoga College and at the old Waterloo Region Record office in Market Square.
His work earned him a place in the Hall of Fame of the Grand Valley Construction Association.
But Farwell was also a builder away from construction sites, an advocate for the things that make a community fair, rich and desirable – healthcare, nonprofits, arts and culture.
As news of his passing spread, politicians and arts institutions, friends and former colleagues paid tribute online.
“Shocked and saddened by the news of Roger Farwell’s passing. Visionary architect and tireless community champion, Roger has left an indelible mark on @CityKitchener & #WaterlooRegion,” Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic wrote on Twitter.
“A massive loss to the community of a dedicated, humble and extraordinary community builder. A real Barnraiser, ”wrote the regional adviser. Tom Galloway.
“Deeply saddened by this tragic news,” added the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. “Roger Farwell was a great supporter of KWAG and a great friend of the arts in our community. “
Farwell has worked with countless agencies and organizations over the years – the Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation, the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, the chamber’s Healthcare Resources Council, the Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Waterloo Regional Police Children’s Safety Village and Junior Achievement of Waterloo Region, to name a few.
He led the former Creative Enterprise Initiative, an organization that aimed to strengthen local arts and culture groups while using their presence as an attraction to help area businesses attract and retain employees.
In 2009, Farwell was named the annual Barnraiser Award winner by the Record in honor of his contributions. Accepting the award, a “humbled” Farwell spoke of the region’s spirit of optimism and innovation.
“The need for invention is what creates the gene pool for our region. The opportunity for discovery is what enhances it, and innovation and entrepreneurship is what offers it.
In endorsing Farwell’s nomination for the award, then regional president Ken Seiling said he had left his mark on the community through his architectural leadership.
“However, it’s what he does beyond his professional work that really sets him apart. He is active in many areas of the community and crosses many lines in his various activities, ”Seiling wrote.
“He is someone whose vision as an architect has helped shape the fitness of our community and whose inspiration as an individual and as a leader has contributed to our sustainability,” Brenda wrote. Halloran, then mayor of Waterloo.
Farwell has received many other awards and honors, including the Waterloo Award, the city’s highest civic honor, the Governor General for Caring, and the Michael R. Follett Community Leader Award from the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce.