Skip to main content

Farfel Family Papers

Identifier: MS 0879
Finding aid note: Forms part of the Houston Jewish History Archive. Stored offsite at the Library Service Center and requires 24-hour notice for retrieval. Please contact the Woodson Research Center at 713-348-2586 or for more information.

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.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1927 - 1988

Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research. Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

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 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:


26 Linear Feet (24 boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of twenty four boxes containing correspondence, photographs, awards, news clippings, University of Houston Board of Regents records, contracts, financial documents and business records ranging from the 1920s to the 1980s.


The materials in this collection have been arranged in three series as follows: Series I: Business Activities Records; Series II: University of Houston Board of Regents and Related Commissions with Sub-Series A: University of Houston Awards and Recognitions; Series III: Family Papers with Sub-Series A: Aaron J. Farfel and Esther Suszholtz Farfel Wedding Documentation Sub-Series B: Oversized. Series I is arranged alphabetically with respect to original order. Series II and III are arranged chronologically when possible.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The materials were donated by Lois Farfel Stark in September 2019.

Guide to the Farfel Family Papers, 1927-1988
Sylvia Podwika, Traci Patterson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA