Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Stuart Farnum

Engineer Stuart Farnum, lover of all things technical, dies at 83

ST. PETERSBURG — When everyone on airplanes pulled out fluffy fiction to pass the time, Stuart Farnum pulled out computer manuals.

He studied technical things like data packet switching. He did things like rig a wireless network in his condo, even though he lived alone. He said, "I just want to know how the Internet works."

He was a technical man, in love with processes and numbers. And when he started to fall in love with a woman, she got a number, too.

"He gave me a card that said If you want to be my valentine, you'll have to take a number and stand in line," said Sally Carville.

Inside — the number 1.

• • •

Mr. Farnum grew up in Orlando. As a boy, asthma kept him from playing trumpet and joining sports teams. Instead, he turned to academics.

His stern grandfather helped raise him, and Mr. Farnum often felt he had to prove himself. He dreamed of going to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but was nervous to ask his grandfather, sure he'd shoot it down. The answer surprised him.

"He felt proud enough of his grandson that he let him go," said Carville, 66.

Toting a trunk, he arrived in Boston alone. He signed up for every tutoring program, studying constantly. He earned an electrical engineering degree and started a career working on aircraft.

Along the way, he married and had two children, Valerie and Lincoln. He and his wife divorced but stayed friends. Mr. Farnum earned a master's degree and eventually retired to St. Petersburg.

At the Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg, he met Carville. Once, to get close, he asked her to help fix his computer. She didn't realize he was a computer whiz. With her, Mr. Farnum lit up like never before.

"He was alone for many, many years," said his daughter, Valerie Farnum. "She was such an amazing match for him. You could see it in pictures. He always smiled, but when he met Sally, his smile just really changed."

They spent six years together before prostate cancer spread through his bones. He held on as long as he could, spending time with his family.

He taught his son to be a good father. He taught his daughter to stay curious and do what's right.

Mr. Farnum died Oct. 15. He was 83. Before he died, he gave Carville another card with something familiar inside — the number 1.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at or (727) 893-8857.


Stuart Farnum

Born: Sept. 11, 1925.

Died: Oct. 15, 2008.

Survivors: children, Lincoln and Valerie Farnum; granddaughter, Samantha; partner Sally Carville.

Services: Celebration of life at 3 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg, 719 Arlington Ave. N.

Engineer Stuart Farnum, lover of all things technical, dies at 83 10/22/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 10:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Joe Henderson: Other good works can't balance theft from vulnerable victims


    What price can you put on your good name?

    This renovated group home once was operated by HARC. The group's former CEO Richard Lilliston was credited with raising millions for the agency but has been sentenced to prison for stealing Social Security from clients with developmental disabilities. [Times file]
  2. Five reasons why Kentucky can beat Florida for the first time since 1986


    By Matt Baker

    GAINESVILLE — Florida's 30-game winning streak over Kentucky is one of the most impressive feats in the country.

    Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey (73) celebrates Florida Gators running back Mark Thompson's  (24) touch down in the first quarter, putting Florida on the board 6-0 during the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times

  3. Once targeted by the Bucs, Dalvin Cook thrills for the Vikings


    How good would the Bucs be with running back Dalvin Cook?

    Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) slips a tackle by Steelers strong safety Sean Davis (28) to score a touchdown Sunday in Pittsburgh. [AP photo]
  4. Review: More than 20 years later, 'RENT' still matters


    TAMPA — Two decades after Rent shook up Broadway with a starkly joyous musical that demanded to be recognized, a nostalgic tour is taking audiences back.

    The 20th anniversary tour of RENT, shown in 2016, comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19-24, 2017. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  5. Dennis Miller, headed to Tampa with Bill O'Reilly: 'We don't know each other that well'


    Dennis Miller often gets cast as the odd comic out these days.

    Dennis Miller will perform with Bill O'Reilly at the Spin Stops Here Tour at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [Spuffy Productions]