Family + Fun = Faragher
July 19, 1930 William Faragher entered the world at St. Ann's Hospital in Cleveland. He would be the middle child of seven. Bill grew up in St. Cecelia's parish, went to Shaker Heights High School (Class of '49) and then on to John Carroll University.
Only four courses away from a degree in history Bill left John Carroll and bought a bar, the famous "Faraghers" on Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights. He brought in folk singers at a time when it was not yet popular and made it quite a hit. Many of the people he had perform in his bar became very famous.
It was 1963 and the stars weren't "stars" yet. Tim Conway entertained at Faraghers every week - for free! The Smothers Brothers and Bill Cosby each worked for $300 a week.
Pat Paulsen appeared there for 6 months also at a rate of $300. a week. "The difference with Pat Paulsen was that we'd get at least half of it back in the bowling machine. He loved to bowl on the machines, but was really, really bad at it."
Bill then gets a certain look in his eye that lets you know a story is coming up. Bill often took Bill Cosby back to his hotel after he worked at the bar. Of course, there were many nights when they made a few stops on the way.
He remembers one night specifically when he took Cosby to another bar. Remember, things were different then. It was the early 60's and on top of many other differences in the times, Bill Cosby was an unknown - not the star he is today.
After being in the bar for a short time, the owner told Faragher, in less than polite terms to get his "[black] friend" out of his bar. They left.
Many years later Faragher was playing golf with that owner. Faragher asked him how he liked Bill Cosby, the comedian. Of course, he did. Bill could hardly contain his laughter when he explained that many years ago he threw him out of his bar.
Cosby has remained a good friend of Bill. Bill also remembers the time Cosby was scheduled to perform at FAU (Florida Atlantic University). Faragher knew the school was trying to raise funds so he called his old friend and asked him to do the show as a donation. Cosby agreed, but only if Faragher was there.
As luck would have it, Bill's daughter was having a baby right at that time and he wasn't able to make it - but Cosby honored his agreement and the school made a lot of money.
Another performer Bill remembers well is the late Ted Brown, an uplifting folk singer who was killed in the Glenville riots. From his home at Fairmount and Euclid Heights, Bill heard gunfire from the riots. He wonders if he heard the shot that killed his friend.
In 1964 Faraghers was sold and Bill started the Town & Country Driving School, which he has just recently sold. The school started with one car worth no more than $600.00 and ended up with 120. It was one of the largest driving schools in the country.
The school had a contract with the Cleveland Board of Education for fourteen years at a rate of 3500 students a year. He also had contracts with school districts in Euclid, Mentor, Eastlake, Willoughby - about 15 in all. Over ten thousand children a year enrolled at this school.
The second Faraghers opened on Lee Road, just next to the Cedar Lee movie theatre. At the same time he had a little restaurant across the street on Lee, near Meadowbrook called "Faragher's Breakfast Brunch". During this time he had the bar, the restaurant and the Driving School.
"I'd go to work about 7 in the morning and get home between 2 and 3 a.m. I didn't need much sleep then - and I really still don't. That bar was all fun - I loved those days."
Bill sold the bar and the restaurant and opened yet another bar in Cleveland Heights. The third Faraghers opened on Noble Road next to Hillside Dairy , but he eventually sold that one as well. Whether there will be a Faraghers 4 is yet to be seen.
Bill began buying and selling cars when he was just 13. He lived in a big house on Shaker Blvd. Bill would bring a car home and his father, a very prominent surgeon would question whose car it was. Bill's Mom always covered and just said "Bill's friend". Then Bill would sell the car.
When he was eighteen he started working at the racetrack. "Since then, the track has cost me a fortune!" He owns a few race horses himself now. "Financially, owning a race horse is a loosing proposition for most people. It certainly is for me although Glitter wins sometimes".
Glitter is actually "Glitter and Gold" who joins "Miss Denver Mint" and Mount Oliver" to make up Faragher's stable. Mount Oliver is very well bred, but hurt his leg, so he is now used strictly for stud services. Glitter is a sprinter and runs at Thistledown and Mountaineer.
At age 17 he ran an ad in a Los Angeles paper that promised to teach people how to make premium beer in their own home for only pennies a day. He took the information out of the encyclopedia, copied it and sold it for $2.00 each. He sold more than 200 of his "instructions" before that project came to an end.
Then there was the year he planted 200 baby Christmas trees on some land his father owned. A farmer, who was not supposed to be on this part of the property, plowed them under.
Another moneymaking project for the ambitious young man was the renovation of older homes, especially doubles. He'd buy as many as five run-down homes at a time, refurbish and then rent them out.
Bills' willingness to take risks and his sense of adventure came from his father and paternal grandfather.
His father invented a baby formula (SMA) while at Johns Hopkins. His grandfather was a policeman and a semi-pro baseball player.
Bill idolizes his father. He remembers going to St. Vincent Charity Hospital with him to deliver babies. They'd always go for ice cream after.
In August 1961 at the age of 31 Bill married Beverly Rhodes. Together they had five children: Bill Jr. (a Doctor who just finished his residency at Loyola); Mary (a kindergarten teacher in the Cleveland School systems); Beth (an attorney in Denver and the litigant in the textbook case of Faragher v Boca Raton. Beth took the city to court on a sexual harassment charge in this precedent setting case.);
Kit (Kit worked for Janus Funds which took her from her Denver home to The World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 where she died.) and: Jimmy (the youngest of the children, Bill will always think of him as his "baby")
Bill also has four very dear grandchildren.
Although Bill's marriage ended after 22 years, he and his former wife are friends and get along very well now.
Needless to say, Bill was deeply affected by the loss of his daughter, Kit, at the World Trade Center. "She's an angel now. She's in heaven and that's good."
Bill attends 6:30 Mass at St. Francis Assisi in Mayfield Heights about five days a week.
Bill travels to Florida often. His two sisters live in the Boca Raton area and his brother is in West Palm Beach. This brother, John, was a football coach at St. Joe's High School on Lakeshore Blvd.
For years he and his friend Michael Duffy have traveled to Lake George, just outside of Saratoga and of course, the racetrack is the reason for this destination. The tradition continues, but he has added more friends to the entourage "Footer, Mike Byrne, Duff and me - we all go and we have the best time. I wouldn't miss it!"
Bill loves to golf and now that he is retired has more time to play. He's an avid sports fan and follows all of the Cleveland teams religiously.
His drink of choice is beer. "I can't even think about drinking whiskey". He says his daughters always knew "Give Dad 6 beers then you can have anything you want" The boys, on the other hand, went straight to their mother.
Bill may be retired but he hasn't slowed down any. He still walks and runs about 20 miles a week. "I know the deer by name I've seen them so often". While at JCU Bill ran track - often with Don Shula.
He loves to spend time with his friends, and share some laughs and good times over a beer. "Everything makes me happy. Just being alive. My kids - everything. I've had the best life. Sure, there's always headaches, but it's always fun! If you don't use your head you don't have a chance - but you should still have fun. I've always had fun doing everything I've done"
Bill not only has fun - he provides it too. His laugh is contagious and listening to his stories is a delight. If you see that special look in his eye buy him a beer and sit back and listen. There's a good story on the way.
Profiled by Debbie Hanson
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