Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Janesville needs more people like Tony and Londa Farrell

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Greg Peck
Monday, January 20, 2014

Longtime readers of The Gazette might remember when our Sunday edition included a weekly feature called Hats Off. These were uplifting stories about people doing good deeds for others, or about people dedicated to volunteer service in our community.

The feature ran for years when I served as Sunday editor. Eventually the good untold possibilities for filling that spot started to dwindle, and we scrapped it. In recent years, The Gazette featured many of the same sorts of dedicated people in our annual special section dubbed People Who Matter. Again we started to run short of people whose stories remained untold, and it, too, fell by the wayside. Today, however, The Gazette is rejuvenating Hats Off. This time around, we will only run it whenever we come across or learn about an appropriate subject.

Such as the one today about Tony and Londa Farrell. I have never met Londa. But Tony is well known to me and my Gazette newsroom colleagues. He doesn't miss an opportunity to call and thank us whenever a reporter writes a story, or I write an editorial, that casts a positive light on Janesville. He's the consummate cheerleader for our community.

I also knew that Tony, a Rock County deputy coroner, speaks on suicide prevention at schools, colleges, churches and even in homes. It's a great community service, and one of a long list that Tony and Londa are involved in, today's story says.

But that's not the topic of today's Hats Off. Instead, Tony and Londa found a plastic bag in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Jan. 3 that contained a California woman's cash, credit cards and ID. Seems the woman had been visiting her ill mother in Janesville, had  lost her purse, and was using the bag for her personable valuables. The Farrells called police, but officers were tied up with traffic accidents that day. Instead of just dropping the bag off at Wal-Mart's customer service, where they figured it might get lost amid a sea of Christmas gift returns, they decided to wait because they figured the woman would return in a panic. It took about 90 minutes before she showed up, grateful for the Farrells' kindness.

Those who know the Farrells aren't a bit surprised by this compassionate act.

I was at the library with my wife and grandkids Friday night, and Tony spotted me and didn't miss the opportunity to get my attention just to say hello. I had no idea he was to receive a Superior Citizen Service Award from the coroner's office Saturday night. I read about that, too, in today's Gazette. So congrats, Tony!

To nominate someone for our new Hats Off feature, send a description and contact information about the person or people to newsroom@gazettextra.com or through regular mail at P.O. Box 5001, Janesville, WI 53547-5001.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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