I mentioned in a previous post that Frank Farrar was at the recent unveiling of the Trail of Governors sculptures. In fact, he has been at every one of the unveilings since they began in 2011. His portrait was the second one I made for the Trail of Governors. I visited Frank in his hometown of Britton, SD, to learn more about him before I decided how I was going to portray him and to take reference photos and measurements. We spent several hours together and long before we were done I became a big fan of Frank Farrar. His easy-going manner and self-deprecating sense of humor are rare qualities in someone so accomplished.
Frank was Attorney General from 1963 to 1969, and Governor from ‘69 to ‘71. He would be sure to tell you, too, that he was the only Republican incumbent ever to lose a gubernatorial election to a Democrat in South Dakota. A fact which caused him to think twice about pursuing public office, and focus on business in the private sector where he has been very successful in the banking business.
But there is another side to Frank that I found fascinating and inspiring. Frank was into exercise way before it was cool. While he was Attorney General, he could be seen running every day in the streets of Pierre, something that adults just didn’t do in the 60’s. Or he might go down to the Missouri and swim a mile or two. I’ll bet a lot of people thought he was a bit off, but it worked for Frank. He kept on running and swimming and went on to complete 35 IronMan length triathlons. (That’s a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a marathon, one after the other.) Even now, at 90, he still takes part in shorter races. He credits his running lifestyle with helping him defeat lymphatic cancer in his 60’s, and his vitality today is something to see.
It became obvious to me that a portrait of Frank Farrar would need to make at least a passing reference to such a big part of his life, and it wasn’t long before I came up with this idea.