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Endowment Established to Honor Dr. George J. Farha

Students from Christ the Savior AcademyStudents from Christ the Savior AcademyDr. George J. Farha didn't like big events. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, people listened. So, when the idea of forming the first Orthodox day school in Kansas was presented to Dr. George and a group of his peers in 2009, he listened quietly, looked around the room and then proclaimed, "This school must happen. I'm going to support it, and I want each of you to support it too."

It is fitting, then, that five years later, the Dr. George J. Farha Endowment for Christ the Savior Academy is being established on the one-year anniversary of his passing on January 7 a year ago. The goal of the endowment is to raise $1 million, and the Trustees of the endowment board are asking Dr. George's friends and colleagues to join the family in raising the funds.

"It is my desire to secure his dream long-term for the Academy," said Brenda Farha, Dr. George's wife. "I believe with all of my heart that my husband would be so pleased, you see, this school was his dream."

Christ the Savior Academy, a project of all three Orthodox Churches in Wichita, Kansas, opened its doors in the fall of 2012 in the educational facility of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral. What began with 18 junior kindergartners to second graders nearly tripled in three years and is growing a grade a year. It combines the very best academics through a rigorous classical curriculum. Studies are rich in classical literature, math and science, along with Greek, Latin, icon studies, and violin, an instrument Dr. George always loved. The emphasis of the curriculum is to form the child's soul through the teachings of the Orthodox Church. In short, the Academy combines Dr. George's two passions in life: education and the Orthodox faith.

Dr. George lived the American Dream, but few people know the obstacles he overcame to obtain success. He was the first in his family to leave Lebanon to pursue his baccalaureate degree at West Virginia University, and his doctorate of medicine at Tulane University Medical School.
His father sold off part of his business to put him and his brother Jim through medical school. "Try to become doctors, and be the best you can be," his father said to him as he told him goodbye. With a laser-like focus, he never forgot that advice.

Dr. George moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he met his wife Brenda. In 1963, he began what would become the largest independently owned surgical team in the nation: Wichita Surgical Specialists, PA. He was also instrumental in starting the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita, and was chairman of the Surgery Department for 24 years.

Faith was central to Dr. George's life. He attended an Orthodox school in Lebanon and served as chanter in the Church. In America, he served on the Board of Trustees of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America and was vice-chair for twelve years. He was also a life-long member of The Order of St. Ignatius and a board member of International Orthodox Christian Charities. He served on the original steering committee which formed Christ the Savior Academy.

Last Christmas, while in the final stages of his disease, the Christ the Savior Academy students came-in their ties and plaid jumpers, and caroled at Dr. George's house. He was in a wheelchair in the living room and listened intently to the children singing.

"He just had the biggest smile on his face the whole time," recalls Brenda. "He was so very proud that the school was thriving."

Donations can be sent to the Dr. George J. Farha Endowment c/o Christ the Savior Academy, 7515 E. 13th St., Wichita, KS 67206. For more information, please contact Gayle Malone at dgjmmalone@gmail.com.