Dee Dee Farmer, left, in the classroom doing what she did best. | Wednesday Journal file
Saturday, October 15, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
People in multiple communities are mourning the sudden passing of Maywood resident Deneita “Dee Dee” Jo Farmer, the popular Longfellow Elementary School prekindergarten teacher who died unexpectedly on Oct. 7. She was 65 years old.
Farmer, a 40-year veteran in early childhood education and a 1997 Golden Apple Award winner, was the head of the Oak Park school’s prekindergarten program.
Last February, the Oak Park newspaper Wednesday Journal interviewed Farmer at the Collaboration for Early Childhood’s 12th Annual Symposium, a day-long gathering of early childhood educators from all over the Chicago area.
“I was Peter Pan; I was never growing up,” Farmer said, referencing her childhood, which she cited as part of her motivation for teaching.
“So many things happen as a result of kids just mucking about with things that are in our environment,” said Farmer at the time. “I’m still Peter Pan; I’m never growing up. Growing up is dull. The kids keep me young, excited, invigorated and they give me a lot of joy and peace.”
Oak Park District 97 school officials released a statement on Farmer’s passing last week, in which they described the veteran educator as “a beloved member of our District 97 family who touched the lives of countless people during a remarkable career at Longfellow that spanned more than 20 years.”
Longfellow Principal Angela Dolezal said Farmer “has guided many students and assisted many parents with both educating and raising their children.”
Jill Pacyna, a prekindergarten teacher at Longfellow, described Farmer as “more than a co-worker. She was family.” Pacyna said Farmer “took me under her wing” since the latter’s student teaching days in 2001.
Farmer, who lived on Nichols Lane in Maywood, also deeply affected neighbors like JoAnn Murphy, Maywood’s deputy village clerk.
“She always made it a point to say hello and she was always willing to share her love of gardening and anything else she could offer,” Murphy said. “We could only wish our next neighbor to be as nice as she was.”
Farmer was buried last week at Lincoln Cemetery in Chicago. VFP
For more stories like these, ‘Like’ VFP on Facebook