Scope and Contents
University of Houston Board of Regents records along with business records and family papers, which include correspondence, photographs, awards, news clippings, contracts, and financial records document some of the Farfel family's business, philanthropic, and recreational activities within the city of Houston and the city's Jewish community from the 1950s to 1980s.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material from the Farfel Family Papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
The Woodson Research Center use policy is that researchers assume sole responsibility for any infringement of privacy, literary rights, copyrights, or other rights arising from their use of the archival materials. In addition to any restrictions placed by donors, certain kinds of archival materials are restricted for the life of the creator plus 50 years. These materials include, but are not limited to, student grades, transcripts, and any job applications or recommendations.
Biographical / Historical
Aaron Joseph Farfel was born March 15, 1906 in Vilna, Lithuania, to Hyman (Chaim) and Feige Fannie (Azinsky/Ozhinsky) Farfel. The family immigrated to the United States in 1910, settling in New York City. Aaron attended public schools and worked nights while obtaining a degree in accounting from New York University. After graduating, he worked in an accounting firm before joining the IRS, which sent him to Texas in 1935.
Aaron settled in Houston and met his future wife, Esther Susholtz, soon after. Esther was born December 17, 1909, in Trinity, Texas, to Ben and Lena (Kline) Susholtz. Esther graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Business. Aaron and Esther married October 25, 1936 in Houston. Farfel attended night school at the Houston Law School (now South Texas College of Law) and passed the bar exam by 1940. The couple had two children.
In 1943, Aaron left the IRS to establish his own accounting firm, A.J. Farfel and Company, which he ran for seven years. By 1950, however, Farfel was ready for a change. He made a gift of the accounting firm to his two partners and chose to pursue a career in private investing. His new endeavor grew into a number of both regional and national investments, including such well-known companies as Evenflo (initially incorporated as the Pyramid Rubber Company), Spalding (originally A.G. Spalding & Bros), and Houston Consolidated Television Company, operators of KTRK. Additionally Farfel served on numerous boards, including Benjamin Franklin Savings Association, Boards Funds, Inc., and Alfred Dunhill of London, Inc. In summary, he gave his expertise from his experience as a financier, certified public accountant, and attorney.
Most who know of Aaron J. Farfel are aware of his service to the University of Houston (U of H) system on the Board of Regents. Incidentally, before Governor John Connally's appointment of Farfel to that board as U of H became a state institution in 1963, Aaron was already a part of Board of Governors. He served with the regents for the next 16 years, becoming chairman in 1971. A few legacies of the Farfel family still remain at U of H such as the Esther Farfel Award and the annual Esther and Aaron J. Farfel Lecture.
His success linked him to many of the most important developments in Houston's history. It was Aaron J. Farfel who, along with R.E. "Bob" Smith and Roy Hofheinz, was responsible for conceiving and building the Astrodome, just as he worked to bring the first major league baseball team to the city. His far-reaching vision touched social issues as well. He took a leading role in founding important civic organizations such as the Houston Urban League and the Rice Design Alliance. Moreover he served in other civic organizations such as the Houston Chamber of Commerce, Houston Symphony Society, the Alley Theatre, Houston Musuem of Fine Arts, and the American Jewish Committee.
Esther passed away on August 5, 1984. Aaron passed away on April 12, 1988 and both are buried at Beth Yeshurun Cemetery in Houston.
Some parts excerpted from: http://www.uhsystem.edu/board-of-regents/historical/former-regents/regents/aaronfarfel/index.php