George and Agnes Farris, Celia Lipton Farris & Victor W. Farris Foundation

Honoring a Hometown Connection

To George and Agnes Farris, Buffalo is about roots. “It is where the family is from,” said Agnes. “It is about our history.” The Farris family moved to Buffalo in the late 1800s. George grew up in Buffalo, and after graduating from Kenmore High, he went on to lead a storied career in academic research and teaching as professor of Management. Both George and Agnes have always made it a point to stay connected to our region.

George’s father Louis and his three brothers attended Hutchinson Technical High School and built careers in engineering and medicine. His uncle Victor Farris graduated from the University at Buffalo, moved to New Jersey and became a successful industrialist and inventor. His many patents range from industrial safety and relief valves to the milk carton. In 1955, he met his wife, Celia, an accomplished singer, and together they balanced their careers and interests with growing a family.

Victor passed away in 1985, and the following year, the Celia Lipton Farris & Victor W. Farris Foundation was formed. When Celia passed away in 2011, George retired from teaching and became president of the foundation. Today, both he and Agnes serve as trustees to help honor the wishes of Victor and Celia.

George and Agnes first came to know the Community Foundation when they established a scholarship fund for students at Hutch Tech. Through that relationship, they saw an opportunity to further support their hometown and established the Celia Lipton Farris & Victor W. Farris Foundation Home Community Fund. They have asked the Community Foundation to help them identify opportunities for funding that are in line with their interest areas.

“Through our visits to Buffalo, we learned what access to education can be,” explained Agnes.
“We have been back throughout the last 40 years at different times. It was bleak at some points,
and seeing Buffalo come back is inspiring. The Community Foundation introduced us to some of the impactful work underway in Western New York.”

In 2020, George and Agnes responded to the COVID-19 crisis by working with the Community Foundation to identify area nonprofits addressing the crisis by increasing their capacity for
behavioral health telemedicine.

“The Community Foundation has its finger on the pulse of Western New York. It knows the needs and how to connect those needs to resources,” said Agnes. “That is of immense value to us.”

This story is featured in our 2020 Annual Report