Lt. R. H. Farber

LT R. H. Farber at work.

I almost always grab military photographs when I come across them and I couldn’t resist this one when I encountered it at a Baltimore antique store in mid-2022. I rarely can make much of them, but this one was a surprise. It sat around in a stack of stuff until I finally decided to see what it was about. A close examination revealed a name plate on the table in the foreground, “LT R. H. Farber”:

Detail of name plate

Farber, the only officer in the shot, is obviously the subject given that almost everybody else is looking at the photographer while Farber appears to be engrossed in his work.

Robert “Bob” Holton Farber (1914-2013) was born in Geneseo, IL to Charles William Farber (1881-1965) and Hulda Ella Ogden (1881-1968). Both families had been in Illinois for several generations. He married Edna Earle Klutts (1918-1997) in 1946 and they had two children. He also outlived his second wife, Vera May Knauer Kierstead (1913-2012).

Farber graduated from DePauw University in 1935 and was never far away from the institution for long after that. According to an obituary, Farber returned to the university in 1937 as secretary of admissions. After serving in the U.S. Army in the European Theater from 1941-1946, Farber went back to DePauw, got his Doctor of Education degree in 1951 (IU), and was appointed dean in 1942, eventually retiring as vice president and dean of the university in 1979.

Farber enlisted as a private in September 1941 at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN. He was commissioned at some point and separated as a major, and somewhere along the way was awarded the Bronze Star. He ended his career as the Classification Officer for the U.S. Third Army, which means he was a personnel officer responsible for making sure the right personnel were put in the right jobs in furtherance of the unit’s mission. A Google search, or a search on Ancestry, will show you quite a few photographs of Farber sitting at a desk and working at every stage of his career.

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