William (Bill) E. Fark
Winslow Alumni Class of 1936
April 18, 2010
WIlliam E. Fark, was born Nov 15, 1918, in Glezen, IN. He was a graduate of Winslow High School, Class of 1936. He passed away on April 18, 2010.
William E. Fark grew up interested in the arts, starting with ballroom and ballet lessons at age 12 (he later studied under Leo Kersley of Britain’s Royal Ballet and Junji Fuseya, a student of Martha Graham). He joined a traveling tent show that was passing through Glezen and never looked back.
His vast experiences could have filled a book —- and in fact, he was working on an autobiography. Over the decades, Fark said he pumped gas, combed coal, picked melons, fought fires, ran a greenhouse, owned a hair salon, built ships and houses, and worked on Chrysler’s assembly line.
Much of his career was spent in the U.S. Air Force. He started in 1942 as a tail gunner, then moved up to instructor, protocol officer and finally an air combat historian. That job took him to Morocco, where he was an adviser on the film “Lawrence of Arabia.” He also served in Japan and Vietnam, where in the early 1960s, he earned the Bronze Star for rescuing six people during a mortar attack at Pleiku Air Base.
In 1967, he and his then-wife, Jean, retired to Escondido, where he began freelance writing for the newspaper (he became a full-time employee in 1980). Fark served on the board of the Escondido Public Library and helped revive the long-dormant Escondido Historical Society.
Fark’s wife, Jean, died in 1990 after a long battle with cancer. Three years later, he married Lucy J. Berk, a fellow city historian who was the North County Times’ librarian and archivist. Berk said their late-life marriage was both a surprise and a privilege.
Fark was a 25-year member of the American Theatre Critics Association, maintaining his membership right up until his death. He also attended annual critics conventions around the country well into his 80s.
Despite the breadth of his knowledge, Fark’s theater and art features and reviews were never boastful or mean-spirited. He was known as a thorough but gentle critic. In a 1998 interview, Fark said: “I rarely trash a performance. I may not praise them, but I can’t trash any actor who’s out there working hard.”
Fark continued as a full-time arts critic at the newspaper until his 80th birthday in 1998. Afterward, he continued to write theater reviews and a monthly visual arts column until 2005, when health issues forced him to retire.
A memorial service for Fark was held at 3 p.m. May 3, 2010 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 845 Chestnut St. in Escondido. A reception followed in the parish hall. His ashes were interred at a later date at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma.
In lieu of flowers, Berk suggested donations to LightBridge Hospice Community Foundation, 5280 Carroll Canyon Road, Suite 310, San Diego, CA 92121; Escondido Library Endowment Foundation, 239 S. Kalmia St., Escondido, CA 93025; or Trinity Episcopal Church, 845 Chestnut St., Escondido, CA 92025.
Fark is survived by his wife, Lucy J. Berk; daughters, Evie Berk, Kim Berk and Kris Christensen, all of Escondido, and George Berk (deceased); grandchildren Nicolas Berk-Sohn, Ashley and Allison Christensen; great-grandchildren Aurelia Berk Sohn; nephew Michael Aaron Pierce of Indiana; grand-nephew Timothy Pierce of Arizona, and grand-niece Cynthia Pierce Anselment of Ohio.