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Born in Quebec City, Quebec, Stephen O’Farrell was the son of Alma O’Farrell (Simard) and John Patrick O’Farrell. Previously widowed, John Patrick had six children when he met Alma. Stephen was welcomed by his siblings Reid, Myles, Grace, Patricia, Doris and Theresa. Known as “Little Stevie” by his older siblings, he enjoyed his sisters’ adoration, had great respect for his older brothers and missed them when they left home to serve their country in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Stephen grew up in Quebec City where he enjoyed school, sports, friends and his Irish family heritage. An entrepreneur from an early age, he delivered the daily newspaper and by the age of 14, he was working at the Château Frontenac as a porter, increasing his tips by offering tourists recommendations to the best culinary destinations.
After graduating from St. Patrick’s High School, Stephen joined the Canadian Armed Forces’ Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP) to complete his Engineering diploma at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. In addition to his military duties and playing team sports as a star athlete, Stephen graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. It was during his studies at McGill that he met his future wife Milvi Laumets where she worked in the university library. Stephen excelled at both football and hockey and was drafted by the Ottawa Rough Riders. However, his desire to complete his military training and start his future career took precedence.
Soon after graduating, Stephen married Milvi in 1958 at St. Kevin’s Parish in Montreal. The wedding was attended by each of their parents. Stephen described his father, John Patrick, as a courageous man who despite struggling with throat cancer since Stephen was a young boy, continued to work in a leadership role managing the Canadian Pacific Railway routes for Canada Post until he died in 1959.
In 1960 Stephen and Milvi welcomed their first child, Susan June, who travelled with them across Canada while Stephen was finalizing his post-university tour of duty with the Canadian Armed Forces as an Honoured Sergeant with Wings. Returning to Montreal, Stephen began his professional career as a Sales Engineer with Texaco Canada. After accepting an offer in the West Island to pursue his passion of coaching football, Stephen and Milvi bought their first home in Pierrefonds, Quebec. In 1963 they welcomed their second child, Michael John Stephen, into their home, where grandmothers Alma O’Farrell and Hilda Laumets were a constant presence in their early family life. In 1965 they relocated to their second home in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec. Stephen enthusiastically added a built-in pool and built a wood fence on his own along with an open stone pizza oven! Stephen juggled family, career and coaching, and his small family enjoyed swimming lessons with Dad, learning to ride bikes, early school days, Expo ’67, skiing in the Laurentians and several memorable camping treks in the rain. Susan and Michael fondly remember those early years. Sadly, Milvi and Stephen divorced in 1969.
Always a proponent of continuing education, Stephen began night school and, within six years, graduated with a Business Administration degree from McGill University. While living in downtown Montreal, Stephen met his second wife, Julie Ann Fothergill, who had a career with the United Nations and who came to Montreal via Italy. The two married in 1971 in a ceremony in Julie’s hometown of Kent, in England, where they spent many vacations over the years visiting with her family and their friends. During that time, Stephen was promoted to the role of Regional Director at Texaco. After enjoying years together in downtown Montreal – his favourite city for sports, cuisine, nightlife and the arts – they relocated to Toronto where Stephen was soon appointed to Vice-President at Texaco.
In Ontario Stephen continued his academic studies and earned an Executive MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. In Toronto he met many of his life-long friends at the Bloor Park Club and within his neighbourhood. He continued to enjoy those friendships over the past 50 years, along with work friends from Texaco and from the old days living in Quebec and the Maritimes. Stephen and Julie enjoyed sailing their boat, the ADIOS, with their yachting partners, family and friends, and spent weekends sailing first from Ontario Place to Niagara-on-the-Lake and later from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, where he had maintained a membership since 1987. Family and friends would gather at the RCYC annually for reunions, which Stephen had hoped to enjoy again this summer.
Stephen continued his long and distinguished career with Texaco and in 1987 was appointed to Vice-President of Latin America and West Africa for Texaco Inc., stationed in Coral Gables, Florida. Responsible for the company operations in over 53 countries, including becoming President of Texaco Canada, Stephen travelled extensively with Julie. Meanwhile they settled in their new country first in Coconut Grove, Florida, and enjoyed the tropical climate and beach life. A true Renaissance man, Stephen enjoyed supporting the arts and actively participated as a board member of the Canadian Opera Company while in Toronto and of the Coconut Grove Playhouse while in Coconut Grove. Throughout his life, he supported numerous charities, primarily those focused on education, veterans, children and health.
Stephen retired from Texaco Inc. at the young age of 58. He and Julie later moved to Hillsboro Beach, Florida, in 2000. Preferring the sun, beach life and ocean views to the cold, long winters in Canada, they made Hillsboro Beach their permanent home. For 22 years, they enjoyed friendships within their Mediterranea Condo community where Stephen served on the condominium board for 20 years. They welcomed family and friends to their home, which was steps away from the ocean boardwalk where Stephen walked each day, making sure to smile and say hello to anyone he passed. Although they were both great chefs, they truly enjoyed dining out in the coastline areas.
Stephen and Julie enjoyed travelling to England, Spain and Italy and went on more than 77 cruises all over the world. They cultivated international friendships and organized group travel on land and sea. Eventually it became hard for Julie to travel due to various health conditions. After her own courageous battle with cancer, sadly Julie passed away in August of 2016.
Stephen once again began travelling to visit friends and family in Ontario, despite enduring his own treatments for his various cancer diagnoses. He had enjoyed good health for most of his life, as he practiced a healthy lifestyle of daily exercise, jogging, squash, golf, tennis, healthy nutrition and an enthusiastic attitude towards life. He was a “glass half full” kind of man, always looking for the best in everyone and every situation. For his 80th birthday he celebrated his last Caribbean cruise together with his children and grandchildren – starting all evenings winning in the casino before family dinners.
Over the past five years, Stephen endured well over 100 treatments with six cancer diagnoses. He embodied courage and a positive attitude throughout these difficult procedures. Fiercely independent, he continued cooking healthy meals at home, walking as much as he could each day or going to his condo gym to get on the treadmill. He enjoyed the companionship of many Florida friends with whom he shared good times and laughs over the years – going for his favourite late lunches and dinners as well as watching sports and business news, reading the daily paper on his balcony, nightly TV until bedtime with Jimmy Kimmel (Johnny Carson was his favourite), and enjoying the many holiday season boat parades on the Florida Intracoastal. He said many times his “bucket list” was complete, and he simply enjoyed relaxing, challenging his cognitive skills, keeping active and staying positive.
In the final weeks of his 84th year, Stephen chose to return to Ontario to be surrounded by his children and grandchildren. After years of the best Florida doctors and personal support workers caring for his well-being in Hillsboro Beach, Stephen passed away peacefully in his sleep on July 27th with his family nearby along with the caring support from the dedicated team at Canterbury Gardens in Peterborough, Ontario. Our father and grandfather will be fondly remembered and missed by his children Susan (Robert Young) and Michael (Christine Sanger), and his five grandchildren, Jason Martin, Lauren Young (Alex Masterton), Michelle Young (Arman Ricardo), Grace O’Farrell and Matthew O’Farrell. He will be dearly missed by all his friends near and far.
To respect Stephen’s final wishes, cremation has taken place and the family has commemorated his life with a private ceremony. In lieu of flowers or gifts, please consider a donation to the Stephen T. O’Farrell Memorial Bursary Endowment Fund at St. Francis Xavier University in support of Men’s Football and Women’s Hockey student athletes with financial need.
Finally, we wish to express our appreciation for all those who loved our father and have expressed their condolences and love. Thank you.
Donations in memory of Stephen T. O’Farrell can be made online at
https://stfxuniversity.ca/alumni/ways-to-give – please click the DONATE TO STFX blue button and then enter Stephen T. O’Farrell in the Other field/box when donating online.
Donations can also be mailed to:
Stephen T. O’Farrell Memorial Bursary Endowment Fund
St. Francis Xavier University
c/o Development Office
PO Box 5000
Antigonish, Nova Scotia B2G 2W5