2002-01-31 Grand Rapids Press "Dinner to honor educator"

Dinner to honor educator will benefit youth, diversity projects
Grand Rapids Press

David Farabee was no chicken when it came to promoting racial unity.

That's why colleagues of the 54-year-old West Ottawa Public Schools assistant superintendent, who died last month from brain cancer, will host a Feb 15 barbecue chicken dinner to raise money to benefit the youth and diversity projects that were his passion.

The dinner will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of Macatawa Bay School, 3700 140th Ave. Farabee served as interim principal at Mac Bay from August to January 2000, in addition to continuing his regular responsibilities of administering the human resources department of Ottawa County's largest school system.

"ln a world that sometimes loses its shimmer, Dave brought a wonderful light," said Gail Garrison, executive director of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance.

Farabee was on the team that planned and trained leaders for the first Ottawa Area Summit on Racism last February. He served as chairman of all the continuing education action teams that formed at the summit until he became ill last

David Douglas, an assistant principal at Macatawa Bay School and a member of the Alliance For Cultural and Ethnic Harmony, will present an award in recognition of Farabee's work to increase ethnic harmony to his widow, Salty, at the
second Ottawa Area Summit on Racism on Feb. 12 at Hope College.

West Ottawa will donate proceeds from the benefit dinner to the Dave and Sally Farabee Fund for Youth and Diversity, established at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area.

The chicken will be grilled on site by Nelson's Golden Glow Chicken of Waukazoo Ind.

More than $4,000 in proceeds and donations was raised last year with a 'Nelson's chicken dinner at Waukazoo Elementary School to benefit a kindergartner from a migrant family who was recovering from a bone marrow

Waukazoo Principal Mike Kestrerke said the benefit will provide an enjoyable evening for the West Ottawa community to celebrate the life of a visionary leader and help continue his work.

Macatawa Bay Principal Richard Zuker'said he's hoping for a good turnout in his cafeteria, which seats 650 people,  because Farabee had a knack for relating to people in a way that brought out the best in them."

Music will be provided by the Mac Bay Honors Choir, West Ottawa's kids Healing Kids Choir' and other school instrumental music groups.

Tickets may be purchased for dinner only, or for dinner with discounted- admission to basketball games being Played that evening at West Ottawa High School.

"Four types of tickets will be available: one-quarter chicken with all the trimmings, $5; one-quarter chicken dinner with
basketball ticket, $7; one-half chicken with complete dinner, $6; one-half chicken dinner with adult basketball ticket, $9.

Tickets are on sale at Macatawa Bay School and at Waukazoo, Great Lakes and lakeshore elementary schools.

West Ottawa Superintendent Rosemary Ervine and other school employees are volunteering to serve the dinner.

Farabee was a West Ottawa graduate who returned after college and teaching on the east side of the state to become special education director of West Ottawa and Zeeland Public Schools.

In 1982, he went to work in human resources for Prince Corp., now Johnson Controls Inc., and was elected to the West Ottawa Board of Education.

Farabee returned to paid work at West Ottawa in 1991 as assistant superintendent of human resources, where he hired hundreds of teachers to staff the fast-growing district over the past decade.

Colleagues give Farabee high praise for his generosity, graciousness, gentleness, approachability, fairness and dedication to advance projects that are in the best interest of children and the larger community.