Former Gov. Frank Farrar turned 92 earlier this month, the longest living South Dakota governor in history.
He’s also the longest living governor after leaving office. As of January, it’s been 50 years since he completed his two-year term from 1969 to 1971.
There are probably a lot of reasons for Farrar’s longevity. As a veteran and cancer survivor, he hasn’t given up exercising and has been an ironman competitor and senior Olympian, competing in dozens of competitions after age 65.
Exercise is basically synonymous with Farrar, but it is not his only accomplishment since leaving office. He has owned more banks than I have kept track of, and in my hometown of Britton, where Farrar was born on April 2, 1929, and still lives, we just call them Frank’s Bank.
My biggest memory of the Farrar clan – I went to school with several of his five children, although none were in my class – comes down to running shoes. Specifically, Adidas County shoes from the mid-1970s.
There weren’t a lot of trendsetters in Britton in that decade, other than a couple of girls in my class who dressed in plaid because of their love for the music group the Bay City Rollers. But Frank had enough children to basically have his own team, and those kids all ran in a pair of Adidas County white leather shoes with dark green stripes. The sole was a cool split color of green and white.
In Britton, the shoes caught on. Kids started wearing the white and green runners, even if they didn’t plan on going out for cross country or track. They became our everything shoes.
The Farrar family was basically an endorsement in the days before famous people were paid big money to be associated with a brand.
I had to own a pair, wore out a couple of them and still have one tucked away in my childhood keepsakes. I looked up their value and they range between $400 and $1,000 on ebay. I don’t plan on selling though. I’ll keep them for the memories.
They are one of four pairs of shoes I remember from my school days, the others being saddle shoes, Dr. Scholl’s wooden bottomed sandals with just one strap and an amazing pair of red Chuck Taylors our team wore on the basketball court. I kept the Chucks all these years, too.
It’s probably a little odd to identify the state’s 24th governor, a man of distinction, with vintage athletic shoes. Before being elected governor as a Republican, he also served as the local State’s Attorney and was elected Attorney General.
In Frank’s case, I don’t really think he would mind the running shoe connection. He’d probably even chuckle about it. With exercise such a vital part of his life, he might even be proud that his family’s choice in running shoes back in the day inspired other kids to put them on their feet.
Afterall, his inadvertent campaign motto all these years really has been to stress the importance of staying active. In that case, it’s important to wear good shoes.