Lelia and David Farr receive Harris Award

Couple honored for contributions to St. Louis region

Chancellor Andrew D. Martin (left) and Vice Provost Mary McKay (right) present the 2023 Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award to Lelia and David Farr during a June 1 luncheon at the Whittemore House. (Photo: Joe Angeles/Washington University)

Lelia and David Farr were honored with the 2023 Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award during a June 1 luncheon at the Whittemore House.

Each year, the Harris Award committee selects a couple to receive the award, established in 2000 in honor of the late Jane and Whitney Harris to recognize couples who contribute to the betterment of the greater St. Louis community. 

Chancellor Andrew D. Martin and Mary McKay, the university’s vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives, presented the Farrs with the award. Also present was Ann Liberman, chair of the Harris Award committee.

“Jane and Whitney cherished a deep commitment to the region, and Lelia and David Farr exemplify the same dedication,” said McKay, who also hosted the luncheon.

About Lelia Farr

Lelia Farr has served as a leader and volunteer for several local organizations in the last 26 years, including University City Children’s Center, Ladue Chapel, The Salvation Army, Operation Food Search, Beyond Housing and Sunshine Ministries.

Farr was the first woman to chair the board of trustees for the Missouri Botanical Garden. She spearheaded the “Garden for the World” and Jack Taylor Visitor Center campaigns for the organization and continues to serve on the executive committee and other board committees.

Farr also serves as a vice chair of the board of trustees of Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

She has served in leadership roles for several organizations, including Wake Forest University, the Saint Louis Art Museum, John Burroughs School, Ladue Garden Club, the National Society of Colonial Dames of America, Dance St. Louis, the Touhill Performing Arts Center, Ladue Chapel and the Service Bureau. She led the “Wake Will” campaign at Wake Forest University.

Farr has been the chair of galas for the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. She received the Woman of the Year award from Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis in 2014.

About David Farr

David Farr served as CEO of Emerson from 2000-2021 and served on the company’s board of directors from 2004-2021. Prior to being named CEO, he was appointed president of Emerson’s Asia-Pacific operations in 1993 and chief operating officer in 1999.

Farr served as a chairman of the board of directors for the National Association of Manufacturers, the largest manufacturing association in the U.S., and remains a member. Farr is a former board member of the US-China Business Council and is a member of IBM’s board.

He also has served on the boards of several nonprofits and institutions, including the United Way of Greater St. Louis. He ran that organization’s annual campaign in 2007.

He served as a member of the executive board of the Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis (the Muny). He served as a member and president of Civic Progress, an organization of chief executives from leading St. Louis companies who worked to promote the region. He worked closely with Andrew Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings Inc. and a WashU emeritus trustee, to raise more than $200 million from major local corporations for the Gateway Arch grounds and improvements in downtown St. Louis.

In 2011, Farr was recognized as the St. Louis Citizen of the Year. He also received the Semper Fidelis Award in 2012 from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Wake Forest University and a master’s in business administration from Vanderbilt University.

The couple co-chaired the 2010 United Way de Tocqueville Society campaign and were awarded Forest Park Forever’s 2022 Leffingwell Award. They also are the presenting sponsor for the 2023 “Chihuly in the Garden” exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Garden. 

The couple have two children, Lindsey and Andrew.

Harris Award recipients are honored with a cash gift made in their name to St. Louis-area charitable organizations of their choice. The Farrs’ award will support five organizations: Boys Hope Girls Hope St. Louis, Focus Marines Foundation, Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis, Saint Martha’s and University City Children’s Center.

For more information on the award and how to submit a nomination, email harrisaward@wustl.edu.

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