Frank and Ann Zwinger, 1991
his “retirement,” Bill Farr was Frank Waters’ invaluable gerontologist in
Tucson. He now serves on our FWF board of directors and is webmaster for our
exceptional site. His wife, Elsa
Sell Farr, was a pediatrician and now serves on our advisory board.
The following lowdown on this dynamic duo is excerpted for the most part
from their last Christmas letter.
have had an exciting 2001 at the Sell Farm in Georgia during our first full year
of being in the beef cattle business. We
have learned a great deal and have more to learn.
Actually, it is much like medicine in that we are learning about
genetics, nutrition, physiology, and how to implement what is learned, hopefully
in a cost effective and profitable manner.
We’ve built new barns and new roofs on old
barns, sprayed lots of paint, installed new barbed wire fences and a new
electric fence system used for rotational grazing, and provided water to all
pastures. We have added some new
and very good genetics to our herd. We
now have registered Angus and Brangus mommas with babies at their sides, and we
purchased a number of good looking crossbred Angus-Brangus-Simmental heifers
that are giving us some nice calves.
Bill won first place in the Lamar County hay
contest and third place in the Mid-Georgia Cattlemen’s hay contest for quality
of harvested hay. This took a lot
of work, good weather, timing, and $. It
has also been a great year for the pecans, grapes, blueberries, and our
vegetable garden. We can’t
believe what can be produced with the correct environment and a little moisture
Bill and the
Elsa has done a wonderful job as the wine
maker for Sell Farm, producing red, white, and rose varieties from our Muscadine
grapes. Aging in oak barrels added
flavors and made an enormous difference. The
wine tastes fantastic and Bill really likes it.
She produced a very good rose that we call Mooo-se, and we are looking
forward next year to the release of a Mooo-Sell.
Elsa has been very active with the Bearded
Collie Health Foundation that she founded and runs.
She is in the process of completing studies and developing data on
genetics as it affects health of this breed, besides raising and training our
own dogs. Sheep have been added to
our menagerie in order to improve the Beardies’ herding skills and to munch
down our grass.
For a time, Bill has set aside his artistic
painting in favor of farm activities. He is a director of the Mid-Georgia
Cattlemen’s Association...... He is also webmaster for the
Frank Waters Foundation
website (frankwaters.org), the farm website (www.sellfarm.com)
and Grass-Fed Beef Farming.
Bill is vice-chairman of the International
Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) and editor of their online
newsletter. In 1976 he started the
first free-standing hospice in the US at Hillhaven in Tucson.
A dozen hospices now exist in Tucson along with thousands across the
nation, and the IAHPC is spreading this concept around the world by assisting in
training, instructional fellowships, and other funding.
To view our Sell Farm Rogues’ Gallery on
the Internet, go to:
Bill and Elsa Farr, the Girls, and Assorted Animal Friends
Pete and Isabelle Concha, 1989
Frank and Frank Samora ( the man in "The Man Who Killed the
Frank on left and W.Y. Evans-Wentz on far right
Working and socializing with Tal and Marilyn Luther are a joy.
The pair has worked together constructively for so long that they are indeed a
Dream Team who gets a job done with little or no friction, besides enriching
social events with their own pure enjoyment of the moment. Marilyn has an
appropriate joke for almost any occasion. And Tal will have something pertinent
to say about literature, art, classical music (Mozart is his favorite), or
Muggins, their curly-haired poodle mix who rules the roost. Although he politely
remains in the car, Muggins gets to ride along on scenic Sunday drives to Red
River for prime rib at Texas Red's or to Angel Fire on a week night for
barbecued pork. He expects, and gets, his due.
Marilyn is a fine hostess, a gourmet cook, and a well-known
artist who shows her oil paintings at Susan Wilder Fine Art Gallery in Taos and
Johnson's Gallery in Madrid, New Mexico. Her work has attracted numerous
collectors; and in 1998 one of her landscapes was awarded first place in
representational art at the select "Taos Invites Taos" show, part of an annual
fall arts festival, where year after year she has been invited to display her
paintings. "My work has been called representational in a contemporary
manner," she clarifies. Influenced by expressionists and Van Gogh, her
landscapes are "homages to Southwestern light," according to one art critic.
Marilyn says, "For me, all things are spiritual, and I try to put a sense
of joy and peace into every painting."
Her large easel
looms to the right of her husband's desk, and her new computer is tucked in
opposite his work space. He says, "It's been hard for Marilyn to paint full
time. Besides raising a family, she has always helped me in my business."
At one time Marilyn worked for the government near
Independendence, Missouri, at a location shared with Remington Arms Company
where Talmage Luther was employed. Introduced when her boss engineered a
meeting, the couple later married in 1959; their only child, Faith, was born in
1963. Tal, a New Englander by birth and a Yale gradulate, went on to become Wage
Administrator at Remington, a subsidiary of DuPont. After frequent visits to
northern New Mexico and Tal's retirement in 1986, the Luthers moved permanently
from Prairie Village, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, to Taos.
"I never took any art instruction at Graceland College in
Iowa," Marilyn explains, " since my parents cautioned me that artists
starve to death." And that's about right, usually. I had a natural talent
and the inclination, but didn't consider it part of my life until a neighbor
gave me a starter set of oils for Mother's Day as she thought I'd done so much
for her. I cannot remember why she thought that, or how she knew it was the
perfect gift. I didn't cry when she gave it to me, but tears poured down my face
when I opened its lid and saw the oils and accessories.
"Painting then possessed me like a fever. I cooked and
kept our place looking neat, and cared for my husband and baby, but every single
spare minute was spent with those paints. I was filled with energy and stayed up
late. Then I almost got colitis, and almost is bad enough for anyone. I left
painting alone until I was well. When I went back to it, I found that I had
control and discipline, and my priorities were in order. I have learned that you
cannot really be a good painter without this control."
interrupts, "Please, Marilyn. Please! Come and help me with this."
A collector par excellence who specializes in book-collecting,
Tal at one time or another has collected treasures ranging from paintings and
rugs to Indian pottery and Staffordshire china. He recently sold his Tony
Hillerman and John Nichols book collections to universities but still has the
largest Frank Waters collection in the world, numbering more than 1900 items.
Several times a year he issues a catalog typed by his wife and listing books for
sale, a project they have undertaken together since 1962 when Tal began his book
dealer business in earnest as a spare-time pursuit.
Paul Hutton writes in his foreword to an updating of Tal's bibliography, Custer
High Spots, that twenty years later it is still a "valuable guide"
and "remains the first book to consult...Luther cut through the morass of
Custer publications the vast majority of which are worthless to pick the
very best books on Custer divided into useful categories and with illuminating
commentary." In writing of Tal's Kansas City days Hutton states that the
collector was also "one of the great dealers in Western Americana." He
continues, "Luther ranked among the top of a truly extraordinary group of
bookmen. His catalogs were eagerly awaited by a host of collectors in many
fields, and none more so than the Custer collectors. His prices were always
fair, his book grading impeccable, and his knowledge of the field unsurpassed."
Luther has written another book titled Collecting Taos
Authors, which is illustrated by his wife; three monographs on Custer; and
ten articles about Santa Fe authors for Book Talk. He edited and wrote an
introduction for Important First in Missouri Imprints 1808-1858 and has
written papers like the one partially excerpted from Studies in Frank Waters
in this newsletter. He is reticent about his poetry, long an interest.
Tal shares with Marilyn a love of gardening. Their Taos home
is a casual masterpiece of good taste warmed outside with a riot of flowers
and inside with exotic orchid plants, thousands of books, paintings by New
Mexico's premier artists, and a loving snapshot gallery on the refrigerator door
featuring special friends and relatives like their three grandchildren: Zoie,
Joshua, and Haven Hensley.
As in their home, the Luthers' community endeavors in Taos
have centered on the arts. Tal has served as a top officer, on the board of
directors, or as a member of Harwood Museum, Taos County Historical Society,
Taos Art Association, New Mexico Book League, Friends of the Taos Library, and
the Frank Waters Society. In addition to participating in some of these same
organizations, Marilyn has belonged to the local garden club, and is secretary
of docents for the Van Vechten Lineberry Taos Art Museum and an associate member
of Taos Watercolor Society.
Important to us is the couple's volunteer work on the board of directors of the
Frank Waters Foundation and on the Frank Waters Centennial Celebration
Committee. With Tal serving as chairman of the latter and Marilyn as secretary,
leadership and teamwork flourish simultaneously. Exuding optimism, enthusiasm,
humor, and warmth, a typical meeting moves smoothly toward objectives. An easy
give-and-take and a free flow of creative ideas characterize interactions; each
person¹s contribution is valued. Marilyn¹s sharp, detailed minutes and
organizational skills keep us on track. And good contacts cemented over the
years are helpful in fundraising and participation. When Tal says he'll try to
get Tony Hillerman as a speaker at our Centennial, for instance, he gets his
The humanitarian goals of this creative Dream Team, along with its humanity,
make it one of the odds-on favorites to prevail in our great game of Life.
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