Steven Mark Farber

01/20/1959 - 10/09/2001

(scroll down for more photos, and a video)

Here is the obituary that appeared in the Bellingham Herald. It was written by Steve's father, Murray Farber.

Steven Mark Farber

Steven Mark Farber, 42, former top executive for Internet and software companies in California's Silicon Valley, died Tuesday, October 9, 2001, of a heart attack in Bellingham, Wash., where he and his wife moved earlier this year. They were formerly residents of Redwood City, California.

He was the husband of Dr. Cordula Kirchgessner of Bellingham and the son of Dr. Francine and Murray Farber of Trumbull, Conn. Born Jan. 20, 1959, Mr. Farber was a graduate of Hamden Hall Country Day School, Hamden, Conn., and Tufts University. Moving to the West Coast after college, he established a career in marketing and sales with AT&T, Informix Software and Intellicorp before becoming vice president for Summit Integration Group. In 1997, he became chief executive officer of Interwoven and turned it around from the brink of failure. A year later, he was recruited by Cybergold as chief operating officer. He was instrumental in four initial public offerings and mergers.

In the past year, he served as a consultant and investor and toured the United States for six months in a recreational vehicle with his wife and three dogs.

In Bellingham, he immediately became active in community life and was running unopposed for the District 4 Fire Commission.

In addition to his wife and parents, he is survived by a sister, Andrea De Zubiria of Fresno, CA, and three nieces. He was predeceased by a brother, Michael.

A Memorial Service will be held in Bellingham on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 11:00 a.m., at Fire District #4, Station 1 at Agate Bay, 2516 Northshore Road, followed on Monday, Oct. 15, by a service at 11:00 a.m. at the Home of Eternity Chapel in Oakland, Calif., with burial following in the Home of Eternity Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Steve Farber Fund for the Whatcom County Fire District 4 Training Center, c/o 3957 Iron Gate Road, Bellingham, Wash., 98226.

Jones-Moles Funeral Home & Cremation Service

Remembering Steve

A Father's thoughts

In my grief for Steve, I wanted to comment at the services for him. I was uncertain that I could make it without writing out my thoughts and I asked Steve Martini to take over if I faltered.

One of the people who called during the week said Steve was a "magic person." He could stroll with you in Manhattan or Grand Junction, Colo., in Bellingham or New Haven and it was exciting. He stimulated you with his ideas and thoughts. He was special early. In kindergarten for Show and Tell, he brought in the daily newspaper to read. He also demonstrated his business know-how early. At 12 or 13, he joined a bicycle co-op and was repairing and selling bikes. In high school, he followed a family tradition and worked at a supermarket. He won a police commendation when he chased a mugger who attacked an elderly customer and he helped police catch him.

Steve had a romantic flair. He loved biking. At graduation ceremonies at Tufts, instead of the traditional mortarboard, he wore a biking cap. Right after college, that flair prompted him to be adventurous and take a job in California where he knew no one. He was at AT&T, Informix, Intellicorp, Vantive, CEO at Interwoven and COO at Cybergold. He turned around three of them and his friends argued about which was the biggest. He took at least two companies public and helped others merge. In business and daily life, he was a problem solver. For Cybergold, he wrapped New York City buses with ads and slogans to gain publicity. His home was practically a counseling center as friends flew in to Bellingham for career suggestions.

And he shared -- not just advice. When a childhood friend became director of a New York City school that helped immigrants and others with needs, Steve donated $50,000 for scholarships named for his parents, his friend's parents and for his brother Michael who died five years ago. When he found himself too busy to enjoy his 36-foot sailboat, he donated it to the Sea Scouts. When another childhood friend needed some added financial support to publish a book of photos about Tibet, Steve was there to assist. He visited his high school bio teacher and found she needed a new computer setup. He gave it to her. He knew I always wanted a red car so one day he drove up in a red Camry and said, "It's yours."

His romantic flair took Steve and Cordula around the U.S. in their RV with their three Shelties. His e-mail letters described mountain scenery and the people they befriended. With the opportunity to live anywhere, they chose Bellingham, Wash. Very quickly Steve came to love the city. Previously, he had limited interest in team sports but then he discovered the Bellingham Bells. He wrote an extensive marketing report for the team, considered buying a share, was a volunteer for concessions, ticket-taking and promotions. He opened his home for a great end-of-the-season party for the players, their parents and supporters. Once Steve sent us the front page of The Bellingham Herald and said his picture was there. Page one had a photo of someone in a chicken suit. Instantly, we knew Steve was inside.

He was a candidate for district fire commissioner and was thrilled by the opportunity to serve. He trained to take and he passed the same test as the firemen. He finished second in the fire engine rodeo. He wanted to conduct an annual beat-the-fire-commissioner physical test. Steve's love affair with fire departments began in high school when he interned at the neighborhood firehouse. As a newspaper editor, I received a call one evening about a blaze at a supermarket. I raced to the scene and saw the firemen in full regalia plus one teenager in jeans and sneakers holding the hose. Of course, it was Steve.

Corporate challenges... fire safety... they were just part of Steve's varied interests. He loved reading: mysteries, sci-fi, non-fiction, the almanac. If I ever made it to "Who wants to be a millionaire?" Steve would have been my phone-a-friend lifeline. After he was financially comfortable, he worked as a mechanic at a bike shop and at a shop for foreign cars, just for the fun and experience. But he confused the other workers when he drove up in a BMW.

His romantic flair again: when Steve and Cordula married, he wanted more for his guests besides a ceremony, dinner and dancing. They rented a former ranch in Carmel and invited guests to stay with them for a weekend of fun. What a flair he had. When a woman state trooper stopped him for speeding in Massachusetts, he wound up dating her.

One evening while still in college, he sold his MG right in our driveway when it was too dark to even be sure the car was really blue.

He loved his home in Bellingham. He was delighted by his neighbors. He was right again. They were incredibly thoughtful and helpful to us.

More flair: he bought an Amphicar, right out of James Bond. We drove to Lake Whatcom and to the horror and screams of bystanders, we drove right into the lake, shifted gears to a propeller and we were now a boat churning through the water. In 1986, Steve visited his friend Dave in New Hampshire and read that there was a parade that afternoon. Steve said, "Let's be in the parade." They decorated a VW Beetle with a blowup dinosaur, banners and paint and won first prize in some category. They were photographed with Gov. Sununu.

He was unique. In college as a freshman, Steve had his own radio program on the campus station and was known as Steve Danger.

He loved his wife Cordula, his mom and dad, his sister and his brother. He loved his dogs -- Debbie, Shasta and Bolo.

He had chutzpah and loved action to solve problems. For years, my friend Lenny talked about how he hired Steve one summer to help his company in the auction and renovation of New Haven's big hotel. One day there was an accident near the site. Steve jumped out into one of the city's busiest intersections and directed traffic. He even told a police car to pull over and get out of the way. AND IT DID.

We loved Steve. Admired him. Enjoyed being with him.

He had moxie. As a fledgling salesman for AT&T, he won a large order from Ramada, including phones for the bathrooms. But AT&T insisted those phones could only be sold for residential use. Steve got through to an AT&T vice president who berated him, "How dare someone at your level of the company call me." Then it was Steve's turn to talk. The upshot-- Ramada got its phones.

Thank you for bearing with me. My heart is breaking.

Murray Farber, Steve's Father

You always knew when Steve came into a room. His physical presence at 6'3" and over 250 pounds was impressive. But it was his aura and the force of his personality that you could feel immediately. He wanted to be noticed, and he was. He could be both amazing and annoying, both of which were purposeful on his part, and both of which often coincided.

When I first saw the movie Big with Tom Hanks, I knew they had caught part of Steve's personality to a T. The part that delighted in holding on to childish activities, the naive and sweet grandiosity of some of his behavior, the sheer size, the lack of pretentiousness, all resonated as hallmarks of my firstborn. And what a firstborn he was! He began reading by 22 months, knowing the names of all of the letters on his little wooden building blocks. He read by intuition, figuring it out himself as he did most things in life. That's why he knew so much -- since he didn't have to study things to know them, he had time to learn more things. By the time he was in kindergarten he was bringing in clippings from the local newspaper for show and tell.

There were three B's that were important in his life -- books, bicycles and building. The books were inhaled in quick gulps. The bicycles provided him an outlet for physical activity that was not successful in team sports, and also provided the source of his first paycheck beyond his nearly newspaper route with his brother.

Steve began a life-long career in bicycles at the age of one, when his Uncle Sol and Aunt Nettie gave him a trike for his birthday. His cousin Neal assembled it and Steven spent the rest of the day with the bicycles turned on its seat, spinning the wheels in fascination. It blossomed into a career at the Yellow Jersey Bike Shop and continued for several decades, including a stint at a bike shop in the Bay area after he retired.

The building was something he did in his room upstairs in our house, and all over the house if I let him. There were Legos and Lincoln logs and blocks and erector set stuff all put together on and under chairs, bed, tables, whatever was available, with lots of cantilevered sections, until his frustrated parents would insist that he clean up his room so we could step inside. Of course we thought he was going to be an architect, but he finally did major in human factors engineering.

Skipping far ahead to recent days, Steve and I had some characteristics in common, one of them being that we are both morning people. I usually am at the computer reading e-mail and the newspapers by 7 a.m. and Steve was even earlier. Given the three hours difference in our time zones, I found that if I e-mailed him by 9 or 9:30 my time, I would get an instant response and we would frequently keep up a little dialogue until one or the other of us gave up. Steve loved to give advice and we frequently asked him for it. He seemed to have an unlimited fund of information about so many things, and loved to help us. When I asked a simple question about buying a new computer, he sent a four page e-mail explaining what, where, why and how much. I have kept it and will always do so, and will follow his advice on a purchase when we return to Fresno. We'll be on our own now, with no Big Steve to turn to. But we'll keep on e-mailing him in our hearts and listening to what he says.

Francine Farber, Steve's Mother

Steve was my big brother. We were so different in our interests and styles that we didn't always get each other. But he was so much the big brother. He struck out into the world first. He showed me possibilities I would not have discovered. A little sister hates to admit such things, but I will.

I followed his lead and went away to the same university near Boston, though we moved in different subcultures there. When he left for California after college, he encouraged me to visit and I discovered my future home. I'm sure I crave spicy Asian food now because he took me to the Threshhold Restaurant in New Haven, where you chose the heat of your meal from 1 to 10.

It was Steve I called at 21 when I couldn't pay a bill. He gave me the money and a budgeting lecture too. It was Steve I called when I was shook from what seemed to be a breaking relationship. He tried to introduce me to his friends and then held no grudge and welcomed my future husband back to the family when things straightened out. One of my most consistent images of our relationship over the years is of Steve holding a hose, giving my car a much needed bath. Then he'd stretch himself out on the living room floor and I'd walk on his back "in trade."

If you knew Steve, you knew he was very take charge and opinionated. He always thought he knew a better way to do things. He was usually right. He could drive a little sister crazy. But then he'd turn and show you this emotional underbelly and you'd see a whole different Steve -- how he sobbed through his speech at my wedding, how he cared for a woman named Cordula, how he held my first newborn daughter, how he couldn't bear to be in the room when our brother Mike died.

We were still getting to know each other and now both my brothers are gone. I hate that they're gone. I hate my parents' pain. What can I do? I want to scream at stars and smash out windows. I want to pound a drum and build a huge fire. Then I want to crawl into a cave and sleep all winter.

When spring comes, I suppose I'll crawl back out. I'll smell the soil. I'll plant a garden. I'll call up the sisters that my brothers gave me, by choosing women I really like. I'll show my kids pictures and tell family stories. I'll remember you, Steve. That's all a little sister can do. I'll always remember.

Andrea De Zubiria, Steve's Sister

We've all lost a special friend. To anyone who met him, Steve's enthusiasm, optimism and energy made an instant impression. Losing Steve has left a hole in the lives of the many people who knew him.

Steve and I grew up together in Hamden, CT in the 1970s. We worked in bicycle stores together, raced bicycles, and went on long bicycle tours. We spent untold hours together beneath our MG sports cars, trying to keep them running. We bounced and slammed our way through the New Wave and Punk Rock music scenes together, before moving to Boston to attend college. We shared an off-campus apartment amicably, even though we were the quintessential Odd Couple: he the Oscar, I the Felix. After school we kept in close contact, despite the fact that Steve had moved to the west coast and I had stayed in New England. We always found some way to get together and 'make trouble' at least once a year. Most recently, in March, my family and I visited Steve and Cordula in San Francisco for several days. Steve was a fantastic host and city tour guide, packing into three days what few could have done in a week.

Steve had an almost boundless energy for life. He pulled me into countless situations and experiences that I would have shied from, if left to myself. Looking back, it now appears to me that his whole life was running in fast-forward: he was quick to learn, quick to make friends, quick to succeed, quick to retire. He left this world far too quickly.

David Hamel, Scottsdale AZ

My Friend Steve

It's my job now to tell people how great Steve Farber was. Oh, I know, if he could only grab the pen from me, he'd tell everyone himself how great he was. But he can't grab the pen. So I'll tell you.

I recently learned a well-known adage in the Jewish religion, that a "faithful friend is a treasure." I learned it at Steve's funeral. What a treasure I have had.

Steve Farber was my faithful friend. A friend like no one else in my life. He was very supportive and purposefully annoying. Helpful in many situations, an obstacle in others. Someone I would love to hear from one day and hope not to the next.

A paradox? Not really. Two things made Steve Farber both compelling and annoying. One, he was almost always right. In any debate, on any topic, in any situation. he usually wound up being right. Not always, but enough such that if his "rightness" percentage was calculated as a baseball average, he would have been elected to the Hall of Fame after his first season

Two, he always told the truth. The real truth, like it or not. Steve saw the world like no one else sees the world. The Declaration of Independence talks about some truths being self-evident; Steve saw the other ones. Other truths in the world that most of us don't really don't want to see, or hear, or even acknowledge. When Steve saw them; he'd say them out-loud. He didn't care whether you liked him or not for saying such things. Not that he didn't like having friends. He enjoyed his friends immensely. But if you didn't like him for being who he was, he didn't care. He just might have questioned your judgement.

Most people did not know that Steve was also very generous, with his time and with his money. While he might bargain with a sales clerk down for a dollar off, he'd also donate $50,000 to a youth center over lunch (provided he liked the lunch!). I saw him negotiate hard with venture capitalists on an investment deal and an hour later donate money to buy bulletproof vests for the K-9 unit of the Whatcom County police squad.

Many people, including me, believed that Steve was larger than life. He was always the"big idea guy." He once wanted to buy TWA airlines. He liked large buildings and great mountains. He especially liked big things that moved - boats, buses, RV's and of course fire engines. At his funeral, a former colleague mentioned to me that the casket seemed too small for Steve, that there was no way no way he could be in there. I think that just means that Steve was also larger than death.

I had the great fortune to meet Steve's parents at the funeral. They shared some early childhood memories of him with me. It was clear to me that these two had given Steve a magnificent start in life. But at some point, I bet they had to stand aside, almost with bewilderment and say, "Look what we've created!"

Yes, Murray and Fran, look what you created. Steven Mark Farber. A life lived to its fullest, benefiting all who knew him. His death? Just the dot on the exclamation point.

Dan Berger, Pleasanton, CA 10/17/01

Like Steve and Cordula, we recently chose Bellingham, WA as our adoptive home. However, unlike Steve and Cordula, we've come to know only a handful of people in almost 2 years, while they can include literally hundreds of people here as friends and acquaintances. We consider ourselves blessed to be included as friends.

It seemed that no matter where we'd go in town, there would be Steve either coming or going. We have so many memories of Steve that we could share here, but listing them would be uninteresting. The occasions were simple, uncomplicated - they became events only because of Steve's exuberance and the unabashed ease with which he exposed his kind heart, his perception of his weaknesses, his reflections on life and issues, and his genuine and obvious affections for Cordula, his family and his friends.

We will truly miss his physical presence but will continue to cherish his spirit.

Jennine and Bill Ince, Bellingham, WA

October 11, 2001

At 2:00pm today, I was driving to a doctor’s appointment, wondering why Steve Farber had missed an appointment we had scheduled 48 hours earlier at Stuart’s Coffee Shop in Bellingham. I was there on time, but Steve didn’t show. I had talked with Steve at noon on Tuesday, October 9th and he had confirmed our meeting time and place. I called him at 2:15PM to make sure I was in the right place, but only reached his voice mail. I called again at 2:35pm to let him know that I was going to go to my next appointment and would check in with him later. Voice mail again. On my way back home that evening, I left one more voice mail asking him what had happened. And I sent him an email the next morning, but heard no reply.

I wondered why Steve had replied so quickly to my email earlier, but didn’t reply to any of my messages on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. So today, as I drove to my appointment, I called Steve’s house. His sister answered and I knew from the tone in her voice that something was very wrong. She told me that Steve had been driving to an appointment on Tuesday afternoon at about 2:00pm and had been spotted driving erratically. He was having a massive heart attack from which he did not recover. He died that afternoon.

I met Steve just a week ago tonight at the “Think Bellingham” event put on by the Bellingham Whatcom Economic Development Council. He spoke passionately about his newfound love, the wonderful city of Bellingham, betting anybody $100 that it wouldn’t take longer than 14 minutes to get anywhere in Bellingham. Later that evening, I approached him to learn more about who he was. We quickly learned that our paths in Silicon Valley had overlapped at least once. He gave me his last card.

Steve was the picture of vitality. He was only 42 and in excellent health. And he died on his way to do a stranger a favor.

As I write this, it feels like a 2” x 4” has hit me in the head. I am numb and confused. His death seems so inexplicable, and yet so deeply personal. I barely knew him; but feel deeply connected with him. I can make no sense of this. I can only feel sadness and grief.

Bob Jones, Bellingham, WA

Steve and I met just over 24 years ago. We were both freshmen at Tufts University, trying to meet people with similar interests to help make this new world more familiar. Steve remembered the specifics of our first encounter better than I do. This may well be due to the fact that he drank a lot less than the typical Freshman did in those days, and I drank, well... more. We were both on our bikes, out for a ride. In those days, we both had the same passion for cycling and could knock off the miles effortlessly. We had both worked in Bike shops during High School and enjoyed getting grease under our fingernails. I remember Steve's bike clearly: A carbon fiber frame called a Graftek made by Exxon Corporation. For all of you riders out there, this was the very first bicycle frame ever made from carbon, MANY years before they became at all popular. Campagnolo components throughout, anyone who knew anything about bikes would have surely stopped to check it out. His intensity and passion was infectious, and we started hanging out.

He quickly became involved with many activities at Tufts. He became a DJ at the radio station. Steve had a great voice for radio, that low smooth exuberant tone with great projection and annunciation. He was truly a natural in the role.

We both became active in the Tufts Mountain Club and had many great outdoor adventures together. The club owned a great old Farmhouse an hour and a half from the campus in the heart of the White Mountains. We rock climbed, hiked, skied, and participated in all kinds of general craziness. If there was some kind of crazy stunt, like a traverse of the Presidential Range in the winter in less than a day, we could count on Steve to be up for it. Steve was also there for many of our stealth climbs on various buildings on campus. Those old stone buildings provided some excellent climbing, and Steve always wanted to be first on top. Steve also found, as did many of us guys, that the Mountain Club was also a great way to meet women.

Oh yeah, who could forget the music. Steve loved music, especially if it was REALLY loud. Steve was a fan of Punk music and played the bass guitar, not very well I might add. That didn't stop him though. Actually, nothing really stopped Steve from going for what he wanted. I remember a night at one of the dining halls, where Steve and some other guys were the opening band for a local punk band that Steve and I liked. I forget now what they called themselves [it was 'Phlegm' -Ed.], but they played Louie, Louie and a couple of other simple songs. They were booed off the stage. I remember being inclined to feel embarrassed for Steve, but for Steve it was the realization of a dream. He never let negativism bring him down. We went to all kinds of hole-in-the-wall clubs all over Boston seeing bands like The Ramones and other local Punk bands, permanently damaging our hearing, I am sure.

Steve was also key in my moving to California. He had already moved out here and I was working in Cambridge. During a business trip to San Francisco, he showed me around the city. I didn't see a lot as I was mostly focused on holding on as he maneuvered his Scirocco around the Bay Area at extreme speeds. He did like to drive fast. We ended up one night in a hot tub in the Berkeley Hills, looking out over San Francisco. I was sold and moved out within a few months. His enthusiasm enabled him to sell an idea very successfully indeed.

Steve and I also shared a passion for sailing. As I am a firm believer in OPB, that is Other People's Boats, I often found myself on the beautiful 36-foot boat he had bought. Despite my frequent criticisms of his sailing abilities, he was indeed reasonably competent. I, of course, would never tell Steve that not wanting to expand his already substantial ego.

It was also in a hot tub where Steve, and our mutual friend Gary Kremen, decided that I should meet the woman who is now my wife. Steve was always looking out for his friends and often liked to play the matchmaker. Thank you, Steve.

In closing, I guess I would like to offer some of the thoughts that many of you have expressed. Steve didn't hold back. His love of life and everything in it came through immediately. He was as comfortable conversing with a bus boy at a restaurant as he was with the most powerful executive. He lived his dream. Steve would have undoubtedly had a big impact in his new community. I know that there is some deal, somewhere, that he is trying to close right now. My most sincere thoughts of sympathy go out to Cordula and his family, his friends, and all those who will never know Steve.

Ned Wasserman, Mountain View, CA

While I had known Steven his whole life, only in the last year or so had we reconnected as adults on several of his trips to New York. Like many others, I could recount many impressions of Steven which came with each visit--always a very full event, but here I will focus on his taste in food and his caring and generous nature.

The first visit was spent together when he and Cordula, provided a supportive presence to my brother Jon and sister-in-law Amy during critical surgery Amy needed several years ago. Through frequent e-mail correspondence, Steve never failed to check in and offer comment on Amy's health and then my father's when he, too, fell ill.

On Steven's next visit, when he proposed dinner near his midtown hotel, I combed recent restaurant reviews to offer him a true New York eating experience, coming up with a pricey fusion restaurant just blocks away. As we ate, he filled me in on his latest consultancies, involving companies, always with "a great bunch of guys," wanting Steve's expertise on how to more effectively reach the Internet marketplace. Finally, after many suspicious looks at the elegantly arrayed little piles of pureed vegetables surrounding his steak, he asked, "what is this stuff, anyway?" So l learned that high style was not what he sought in dining.

Steve took great interest in the youth center I run within a public high school and, last year, in a break from the great cross country tour, he took the train into New York to visit. This time, we went for lunch at a nearby Cuban diner, a counter and five tables with a $5.50 chicken, beans and rice special. Steve interrupted our conversation at least four times to say how great the food was and before leaving, personally complemented the cook as we left. "That was fantastic, we are definitely coming back there!"

As we walked back, Steve said how impressed he was with the students he met and said he would like to help out with a contribution and, if he and Cordula were to move East, by joining the Board of Directors. From that conversation, with no prompting, Steve ended up making the single largest individual contribution we have received, which included scholarship funds for two students who, as undocumented immigrants from Latin America, had gained acceptances to campuses of the City University of New York but could not qualify for government aid. Steve's help has not only allowed them all to start college, but also to reduce their working hours to earn their degrees faster. To offer inspiration, he proudly shared the story of Rodrigo's academic persistence with them through an e-mail.

Although we hardly saw each other directly and most of our contact was through e-mail, Steve had a way of creating shared enthusiasms. He postponed a trip East which was to have included a visit to the school the week of the WTC attack. In the weeks since, as I worked out my own anxiety through frequent biking, mentally, Steve was at my side, as I planned out routes he that might enjoy upon his return to New York. He will continue to be with my thoughts often as I ride in days to come, as will the impact of his generosity on the young people he so quickly reached out to help.

Greg Cohen, New York, NY

To those of you who have never met Leah or I, we were Steve and Cordula's neighbors in Bellingham. I was in Hawaii when I received news of Steve's passing and was dazed by the news. I had spoken to him only a few days before I left to get some writing done in the islands. I was home by the next day having taken the red-eye and flying through the night to get there.

It is difficult to put into words all that Steve was to the people he met in the short time he was here. At his memorial in Bellingham, a hundred people gathered on short notice and tears flowed. Steve had involved himself in local government, volunteer activities and business development in ways that only those who had known him for years can imagine. He had ideas for revitalizing a community that has been hit hard by an energy crisis, the current recession and terrorism.

More than that he had become a good friend. More than once I had ventured outside to the front of the house to hear my name called from beyond the bushes and to find Steve's smiling face on the other side. We shared a boat on the lake where Steve's skills and cool-headedness saved me from sinking earlier this summer.

It is amazing to realize that six months ago I didn't know him, and that in that short time his passing could make such a claim on all of us. But it did and it does. We will remember him fondly. His untimely passing will leave a hole in all of our lives.

Steve & Leah Martini, Bellingham, WA

My Friend, Steve Farber

Days are scrolls; write on them what you want remembered, said Bachya ibn Pakuda. Steve wrote very well; this website speaks to that.

My name is Allan Kaplan. Steve Farber was a good friend of mine.

He passed away on Simchas Torah, the end of the annual cycle of reading the Torah, and on the following Saturday began a new cycle, where we read the first chapter of the book of Genesis, Bereshis, in the beginning, the Infin-te created. In that portion, after Adam and Eve ate the apple, realized they were naked, and hid from G- (not that it was such a mystery), G- asked “Ay-yeh-cha” – where are you? -- as in where do you stand. With Steve, it was never a mystery where he stood – he always stood up to be counted, to take a stand, to have an opinion. He would always jump in, take risks.

The Jewish notion of Tikkun Olam, to repair the world, stems from these seminal chapters. And, to me, this was Steve’s essence, his neshuma, his soul, to help repair the world, to help his family, his friends, his colleagues, with a great openness, with a hugely open heart, and a great love of negotiating. To be a mensch.

The Talmud says we have three names: the one given us by G, the one given us by our parents, and the name given us by our stature, by our actions. Steve gave himself, as all of us here today speak to, a name of open heart, goodness, a strong spirit and ruach. His actions spoke for who he was – which was a good friend and family member to us all – who always cared about whatever it was he was doing, and did it all with depth and passion.

Steve had a rare grace, the ability to make the extra-ordinary seem easy, normal, no big deal, that always left me in awe and inspired. I had hoped for more years of good friendship and inspiration. I will always have his memory for that, which will keep him alive. Since his passing, I have tried to take strength and inspiration from him in my daily activities – we say, may his memory be for a blessing, and for me, it is and will be.

This is a profound loss; I had assumed many more years of friendship and counsel. I will always miss him – we will, though, always have Steve stories.

Allan Kaplan, San Francisco, CA

Barbara Beitch sent this letter to Steve's mom:

I was shocked to learn recently of the death of your wonderful son Steven. I I was shocked to learn recently of the death of your wonderful son Steven. I taught Steve at Hamden Hall many years ago. In fact, in addition to teaching him physics and biology, I was his advisor. We went on bike trips and hikes together, as members of Hamden Hall's Outing Club. He and my daughter Debbie (Class of 1882) were good friends for years.

In fact, Steve and I re-established contact with each other several years ago. He had heard about my daughter's death in a car accident, months after her thirtieth birthday in 1994. Steve came to visit me when he was in the area on a business trip. We reminisced about the old days, and he shared my grief at the loss of Debbie. Since then, we e-mailed each other from time to time. We updated each other on our professional and family lives and talked about Hamden Hall back when he was in high school. He told me that years after graduating he came to realize and appreciate what he had taken for granted back then. He told me about wanting to retire early so that he could do something worthwhile with the funds that had somehow come easily to him, as he described it, through his work in the computer industry.

I have another special memory involving Steve. About a year or two ago, I had a student who wanted to drop out of school as a ninth grader, because software companies on the West Coast were wooing him, tempting him with wealth and fame if he would come out to California to design web pages for them. Steve wrote to my student and urged him not to act rashly, to consider seriously what he would be throwing away if he left school. My student was very touched that Steve reached out to him.

Another memory comes to me. Years ago, when our daughter's bike broke down and we could not figure out what was wrong with it, we finally asked Steve for help. As I recall, he was running a bike repair shop at the time. He spent many hours working on Debbie's bike, and returned it after the weekend, better than new. When we tried to pay him, he refused. I remember writing him a check, which he insisted on signing over to the Science Department at Hamden Hall. He asked me to buy something for the lab with the money. I bought a pair of dial calipers, which I had been wanting for my students. I joked with him that I was going to engrave his name on them. Although I never got around to doing that, I still have the calipers. In fact, just a few weeks ago, a student wanted to measure stem width in a plant experiment. I hauled out the calipers, showed her how to use them, and told her all abut the story with Steve and the bike.

In fact, I have a wonderful computer that Steve donated to the lab a few years ago, with a plaque that I had put on it, which reads, "Donated in the memory of Deborah Beitch, by Steven Farber, class of 1977."

My heart goes out to both of you. I know that grief is no stranger to you; that you lost another child some years ago. I know all too well that although children should outlive their parents, it doesn't always work out that way. I share with you the emptiness left when the rules do not play out as they should. My husband and I send you our deepest condolences.

Barbara Beitch

October 21, 2001

Dear Members of Steven Farber's Family,

My name is Israel Perez and I was born in Mexico on February 26, 1980. I came to New York in 1997. I learned the language since then, and after a year I began to work at a deli store where I work on the weekends since I started to attend college (thanks to Steven Farber). I want to major in Computer Science in Queens College. I also work with my father as a musician on weekends performing in restaurants and parties. My goals when I came to the United States were to improve myself as much as I am able to. Now, I am on the right track to become my dream, thanks to the Mr. Farber's contribution.

When I listened to what Mr. Cohen was telling me about what has happened to Steven, I just could not believe it. In the meantime, my mind turned to his family and Steven as a human being. I did not really care about the money because a great and successful man has passed away. I just felt like deaf and the first thing I thought was that how come that a person like Steven had to go. We are never prepare for this type of situations and when it happens we go crazy and usually think that this is the end of everything. However, we should always think that God knows why Steven had to go with him. The reason is simple; Steven was just a great man with good feelings and always willing to help the ones in need like me. I could not have the opportunity to meet him, but I felt like if we met before. He should stay alive with and for his family. When I was reading what his father and Mr. Cohen wrote down about Steve on the internet, I began to cry. I could not stop crying because this was the first time someone who did not know me, helped me economically to attend college. At the same time, I wanted to give up the money he provided, if that would help to bring him back; he should stay alive with and for his family.

Thanks to Steven, I am currently attending Queens College. By Mr. Cohen writing, I realized that he was a person like anyone in the middle class. To be honest, I did not expect him to be like that. I really felt his death, (I completely mean it) like if he were some one very close to me, or my family. I know how his family is feeling right now because my stepsister passed away 10 days before my birthday.

I am really sorry and with you.

I just want to tell you that I would study harder than ever to show you and Steven how grateful I am because of what you have done. I know Steven is somewhere and somehow, he would know how I am doing in college. Please do not think that he is gone, Steven is in our hearts, and we should have in our minds as well, that he is alive. The only way he would die is by forgetting him and by doing things, Steven never wanted us to do. STEVEN FARBER IS STILL WITH US!

Your friend,

Israel Perez
Woodside, NY

October 30, 2001

Dear Farber Family,

I would like to express my deepest sympathy to every member of the Farber family in these grieving moments.

Here is a little background of myself, for I know I am a complete strange to all of you:

My name is Oscar Chamorro, I am originally from Puebla, Mexico, I have been in New York City for the last 10 years now, and I am currently attending Manhattan Community College. My objective is to get my Associates Degree, and then transfer to a senior collage. This should be my last semester before I go to a four-year college, for my goal is to get a Bachelors Degree in programming. I work during the day in a restaurant and I attend school in the evenings, for that is the only possible way to attend school. University has been tougher than I thought, especially, financial-wise. Being on my own has made things harder, because at times I can't manage to fine to do both things at the same time. And I can only take so many classes with so little time to take care of my studies, witch it means that it is taking me longer to finish school. Also, I have being forced to my studies in hold because I have not been able to pay for tuitions. That is why I was overwhelmed and I am grateful for the help and kindness Mr. Steven Farber found in his heart. You have no idea how happy I was when I learned that I had been accepted for a scholarship.

As you probably know, Mr. Steven Farber donated a sum of money to what it is now my former H.S. This money was then given in a form of scholarship to a group of students, in witch I was so fortunate enough to be in. The scholarships were so students like me could help ourselves pay our way through college. I consider myself a very fortunate person for being one the beneficiaries of the help Mr. Farber provided us with. His help came when I most needed it, and you have no idea how his has helped me. Because of the scholarship, I was able to pay for this semester's tuition without having to worry about how am I going to pay; a feeling I experience every time I register for my classes. And I will able to pay for, at least, two semesters more. Thanks to Mr. Farber's generosity. Receiving help from a total strange was definitely not what I was expecting, especially, since I had never met Mr. Farber. This is why now I feel in a way sad that I will never get the chance to personally thank him, and witch I was very much looking forward to do so.

I would just like to say a these final thoughts:

There is no doubt in my mind of the tremendous kindness Mr. Farber possessed. His actions speak for themselves, he did not had to help me, but yet he found in his heart and did anyway. This is why I think that wherever he may be, I hope he knows I will never stop thanking him.

Best regards,

Oscar Chamorro

Doron and I met Steve for the first time in January 1997. Steve was the first angel investor in Blue Pumpkin and instrumental in jumpstarting our angel financing and (as a consultant) helping us launch our product.

In our first lunch meeting, Steve stated his opinion on how companies succeed and failed (I later learned that he had an opinion about everything :-). His words, rang very true to me and after the meeting, I summarized the main points. They are perhaps worn down biz-school adages but I do believe Steve lived by them. Here is what I summarized (this has been edited from my original cryptic note taking):

Inability To Execute - Steve Farber (Jan 10,1997)

The main reasons for failure in startups are related to execution:

Having spent some time with Steve over the years, I can say that it often was not easy to work with him, but I always have admired his tirelessness and his bent for the irreverent. While Steve was not a modest person, when it came to work and creating success, no task was beneath him. Here are a few Blue Pumpkin stories that capture some of Steve's personality:

I feel very lucky to have crossed paths with Steve. All his friends at Blue Pumpkin will definitely miss him.

Ofer Matan

December 9, 2009

I knew Steve in 1979 for a summer when we both worked at Bruskin's Bicycle Shop in New Haven, CT for the summer. I was a student at Yale, and Steve was going to Tufts. I remember he was working at the radio station there. Steve made a huge impression on me in the two months I knew him. We lost contact with each other after that summer, but I've never forgotten him. I just started using Facebook, so I thought I would try to find him, but it is a common name, so I searched for Steve Farber Tufts on Google and came across the tribute page put together by his family and friends. It was amazing to see who Steve became, in part because it was all evident in foreshadowing in those two months. He was a great personality with a giant heart. We had so much fun together assembling bicycles and taking occasional rides around town. Once, I remember, he came with me to a movie on the Yale campus and as we were standing on line, I started talking with someone for a few moments, and when I turned around, Steve had scaled about 25 feet up the side of the building where there was in internal corner! I am so, so sorry to hear of the loss of this great man, but I wanted to share these very fond memories of him with you, and to tell you of just one more person he made a huge and unforgettable impression on in a very short period of time.

Miles Tarter

A short mpeg video of Steve in
the Amphicar, taken 10/06/2001.

Here's another of Steve launching the Amphicar.

When Steve and Cordula toured the country in 2000, Steve sent regular email reports about their adventures. Some of you might not have saved these messages, and others may have met Steve after that trip. Here they are again:

Adventures of Cordula & Steve
More Cordula and Steve Adventures
Next edition of Steve & Cordula Adventures
Cordula & Steve in Canada, eh?
Cordula & Steve Find Out It Gets Cold in Canada
Cordula & Steve back in the US
Whatever happened to Cordula & Steve?
Cordula and Steve forging ahead!
Are we in a Glen Campbell Song?
The last stop for Cordula & Steve

And here's the report Steve filed after moving to Bellingham:

One week in Bellingham

Steve and Cordula

Steve, as upcoming Fire Commissioner, getting familiar
with some of the equipment

Steve & Cordula: We were at a local festival - small town,
small festival. But nothing was too small for big Steve!
He got right into things - had his face painted and
sampled most of the food.

Steve checking the propellers.

Steve and Cordula at sea.

Steve and Cordula on dry land.

Steve's sailing trip with Barry Silverman

Steve's sailing trip with Barry Silverman

Steve at Niagara Falls, winter 1981

Steve and Michael Koifman

Steve with Ben and Rebecca Hamel

At our Labor Day Party in 1986, Steve read about a parade in the morning
paper. A few of our guests suggested we attend. Steve insisted we be in the
parade. In a few hours we devised an off-beat 'float' and entered ourselves
in the parade. Despite puzzled looks and comments from the crowd ("what
does it mean?"), Steve led us to a First Place ribbon for 'Best Neighborhood

Steve, Dave Hamel and then-governor John Sununu at the 1986
Labor Day Parade in Milford, NH.

Your comments, thoughts, stories, photos and other contributions would be appreciated.
Please email:
This site was created with the Boxer text editor.