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Richard Donald Farman

1935 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Richard Donald Farman Obituary
Richard Donald Farman passed away on August 3, 2018, after a year-long struggle to recover from cancer surgery. Farman served as Sempra Energy's chairman and chief executive officer since its inception until his retirement in 2000. His ethical, practical, consensus-building management style led Farman to become a nationally-respected leader in the field of energy.

A Fortune 500 energy services holding company, Sempra was formed by the merger of Enova (San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s parent company) and Pacific Enterprises (Southern California Gas Co.'s parent). As its first chair, Farman oversaw the regulatory approval process for the merger, and the development of a strategic plan for the combined companies emphasizing Sempra's energy businesses.

Sempra was one of the first Fortune 500 companies to locate in San Diego, and Farman was most proud of leading the effort to establish an enduring corporate culture for the governance of the Sempra companies, building relationships with Mexico and the wider San Diego community, and putting together a team of talented senior executives that would guide Sempra through the following decades of growth and change in the energy business. Since its inception in 1998, Sempra has grown into a broadly diversified company, employing over 16,000 people, and serving 32 million consumers worldwide.

Farman began his career as an energy industry executive with Pacific Enterprises (then known as Pacific Lighting) in 1978 as special counsel. Between 1979 to 1989, he held executive positions within Pacific Enterprises, including vice president of Pacific Lighting Energy Systems, and vice chairman of Southern California Gas Company. In 1989, he was named chairman of Southern California Gas Company. Farman, with his excellent executive management team, oversaw the rebranding of Southern California Gas to "the Gas Company" and its slogan "Glad to Be of Service," still in use today. While Farman was leading Southern California Gas Company, he served a year as chairman of the board of the American Gas Association, during which he and other industry leaders formed the Natural Gas Council to discuss issues of common concern in the natural gas industry. He subsequently chaired that organization for its inaugural year.

Farman moved from the Gas Company to its parent, becoming president from 1995 to 1998, before leading Sempra. Sempra's current chief executive Debra Reed worked with Farman throughout his career, starting at Southern California Gas. Reed described Farman as "always focused on doing the right thing. He was honest, sincere and value-driven, usually considering all points of view before making any important decision. Dick was an exceptional mentor to me in my career, but, most importantly, a true friend."

Farman was born in 1935 in San Francisco, California, to Carl Edward Farman, Jr. and Doris May (Muntz) Farman. He and his brother Carl grew up in San Francisco and Menlo Park. Farman graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School in 1953.

Farman attended Stanford University, graduating in 1957 with a B.A. in Economics. He met and married another Stanford student, Suzanne Hotchkiss Farman. Their son Michael was born in Walnut Creek. After graduation, Farman served as an officer in the United States Navy from 1957 to 1960. While stationed in Okinawa, their son Charles was born. The Farman family returned to Palo Alto in 1960, and Farman attended Stanford Law School, receiving his J.D. in 1964.

After graduating from law school, Farman remained in Palo Alto and joined a small general business law firm. He soon left to start his own firm along with two friends from law school, establishing Spaeth, Blase & Farman. He practiced general corporate law until 1969 when he moved his family to Southern California, becoming general counsel and executive vice president of Unionamerica, Inc., the holding company for Union Bank. He left Unionamerica to join Pacific Enterprises in 1978. Farman continued to serve as a director of Union Bank for many years after his departure.

Farman believed in the importance of philanthropy, and offered his considerable leadership skills to his community. He was chairman of the board of KCET Public Service Television in Los Angeles. Suzie Farman's work with the Peninsula Committee for Children's Hospital led to their mutual commitment to support Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Farman served on the board of directors of CHLA for fifteen years. "Children's Hospital Los Angeles was blessed by Dick's presence in the Board room, for his deep commitment to the mission of creating hope and creating healthier futures for children, and for his countless contributions to the growth and expansion of CHLA," stated Paul Viviano, President and CEO of CHLA. "Both Dick and Suzie demonstrated a love for the Hospital's precious patients and their families and have been unwavering in their support for treating all patients regardless of their financial status" further stated Viviano.

Farman's work with global energy leaders took him and Suzie throughout the world. They both loved to travel and spent much of their leisure time visiting as many countries as they could. Their favorite trips, by far, were traveling with friends and family to explore the countries of Africa. Farman also took his passion for fly fishing all over the globe, including trips to Argentina, Alaska, Canada, Chile and Russia.

His love of fly fishing often took him to Wyoming, where the Farmans purchased the family's beloved home-away-from home, near the Grand Teton National Park. He regularly competed in the One Fly fishing competition in Jackson Hole, his team twice winning the event. The Farman home became a summer retreat for Dick and Suzie's extended family and friends. They created a special place for their children and grandchildren, and future generations, to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature and outdoor adventures.

Farman was predeceased by his parents and his brother Carl. Farman is survived by Suzie, his wife of 62 years, his sons Mike (Tracy) of Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, Chuck (Cathy) of Davis, CA, his grandchildren Jenny, Kelsey, Rich, and Kyle. He leaves behind many beloved nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. The young people in his life received his generous support and advice, along with his unrestrained optimism and encouragement for their life's journey. Granddaughter Kelsey spoke for all of the grandchildren when she said, "the interest our grandpa took in our lives made us feel like the most intelligent, interesting people in the world. He taught us to smile through the struggle, and maintained high spirits no matter the circumstance. We won't forget his incredible spirit." Farman's warm and generous spirit is also reflected in the deep friendships he made and maintained throughout his life. His friends and family will miss him greatly.

A celebration of Farman's life will take place on September 14, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. at Palos Verdes Golf Club, 3301 Via Campesina, in Palos Verdes Estates. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Published in The Beach Reporter on Aug. 23, 2018
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