Remembering Martin Farkash, Ph.D. (1937–2011)

January 24, 2012








Martin Farkash


In Deuteronomy, Moses told the Israelites, “I have set before you life and good or death and evil.” Together with Sandra, his beloved wife and constant companion of forty years, Marty Farkash always chose life. His gift was love, and it was a gift that touched everyone who knew him. A man of remarkable compassion and extraordinary learning, an inspiring teacher and a skilled psychotherapist, Professor of Psychology Martin Edward Farkash devoted his life to his family, his students and his patients. On December 6, 2011, he died peacefully at home in Longwood, Florida.

Marty received his B.A. from the City University of New York, his M.A. from Yeshiva University and his Ph.D. from what is now Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Before joining the Rollins College Department of Psychology in 1979, he had been a psychological consultant in his native New York for the Office of Special Education, the Bureau of Child Guidance and the Department of Psychiatry at Gracie Square Hospital. He had also taught at Brooklyn College and the University of Tampa.

At Rollins, he found the perfect environment for his teaching and scholarship, and there he created a number of courses which quickly became some of the most consistently popular classes in the history of the college. Students loved the fact that he not only taught them to think critically but to open their minds to new possibilities. He would often remind them of his favorite quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

Leslie Carney (Class of 2003), a former student, remembers how difficult it was to get into any of his classes. “Even though his courses were in enormous demand, he was wonderful because he knew us and cared for us as individuals.” Those classes, developed in response to the problems he discovered while working with his students, included Suicide and Depression and Hanging Loose in an Uptight World, a course that taught students how to deal with stress. His colleague, Professor of Psychology John Houston, remembers him as “a wonderful person, an outstanding colleague, and a gifted teacher. His ability to motivate and inspire students was truly remarkable. His sage advice and optimistic outlook will be deeply missed by the psychology department and the entire Rollins community.”

In addition to his teaching, Marty had an extensive and very successful practice as a clinical psychologist and was active in his profession, recently serving as the immediate past president of the Central Chapter of the Florida Psychological Association. Patients and colleagues found his calmly positive professionalism comforting and compelling. His broad clinical knowledge made him an invaluable resource for his students, both as a personal and a professional advisor. Dean of the Arts and Sciences Robert Smither echoes everyone who knew Marty when he describes him as “one of the most caring persons ever associated with Rollins College. It would be hard to count the many students, alum, and colleagues who were in some way touched by Marty's wisdom and kindness.”

Martin Farkash with his grandson
Farkash welcomes grandson, David Logan Farkash, into the world.

Marty and Sandra—and it was often hard to think of them separately—loved new restaurants, challenging theater, exotic travel, good friends and New York City. But above all, they loved their family: their older son Evan and his wife Cherie, who live in Boston; and their younger son Mathew, who lives, naturally, in Manhattan. In recent years, Marty waged a heroic seven-year struggle with melanoma, a story chronicled by the Boston Globe in November. Unwilling to yield to its relentless attack, Marty, as always, chose life, enduring without complaint a wide range of often painful medical therapies as he fought both for his own health and for ways to help others struggling against cancer. Most recently, he traveled regularly to Massachusetts General Hospital to participate in an experimental trial program focused on targeted drugs. Even when his physicians warned him that his death was near, he refused to give up, especially because he and Sandra knew that their daughter-in-law was due to deliver their first grandchild on Thanksgiving.

Marty’s intense love for his family was the driving force in his life. Despite his rapidly failing health, he willed himself to live long enough to celebrate with his family the birth of his grandson, David Logan Farkash.

Please join Rollins in recognizing the contributions of Professor of Psychology Martin Farkash at a memorial service on Monday, January 30 at 4 p.m. in the Annie Russell Theatre. A reception in the atrium of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum will follow the service.

Guests should park in the SunTrust parking garage located at the intersection of Lyman and Knowles Avenues. After the service, please exit the garage using the gate staffed by an attendant. State that you attended the memorial and the parking fee will be waived. Parking for the disabled or physically challenged, with official permits, is available at the Alfond Sports Center. Such guests should utilize the Park Avenue entrance to the campus.

The Farkashes ask that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Dr. Farkash’s memory to the Rollins College Book-a-Year Program c/o the Rollins College Gift Lockbox, PO Box 864168, Orlando, FL 32886-4168.



Contributed by Kenneth Curry Professor of Literature Maurice O’Sullivan

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