The Spirit of JoEllen Farricker

On Friday December 23, 2005 JoEllen Farricker suffered a massive stroke. Due to the extensive damage from the stroke, consultations with the doctors, and in accordance with Joellen's wishes, the Farricker family allowed JoEllen's beautiful spirit to pass on.

Everyone in New England should know JoEllen Farricker or wished you had. She was an avid dancer and full supporter of all areas surrounding dance, as well as a giver in all areas of her life including frequent fundraising and donations for the less fortunate. She was the owner and the driving force of the most incredible dance program at The Longfellow Clubs, Wayland, MA catering to all dancers in New England. Her program including weekly dance classes, Friday, Saturday & Sunday dances, and yearly festivities with BBQ’s, fundraisers, and a FREE holiday party (hundreds of dancers this year!). JoEllen was clearly an instrumental part for the spread of Country & Swing dancing as well as the blood for our community for fun!

JoEllen was more active than many 5 year olds, dancing daily, swimming, planning fun events, working down at the club hand and hand with her staff, and experienced a full family life with her husband Myke, their daughter Zoe, JoEllen’s daughter Sara, and Myke’s daughter Abby. JoEllen carried a flare unlike no other, offering full support with a carefree smile to everyone that was so fortunate to be in her company. Energy that seemed endless with her, we would wake up to yet another email about some terrific idea she came up with from the night before.

Here is a piece of JoEllen’s last email posted December 20, 2005, just 3 days before her stroke. Even with her few words here can we all feel how amazing JoEllen was and will remain in all of our hearts!

“Hello to All, Wishing you all the very best of the Holiday Season a Calm & Peaceful Solstice, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, a Happy Kwanzaa and of course Happy New Year. Just keep dancing!

Just a few notes: A New Beginner West Coast Swing Class series will start on Tuesday, January 10th with Sue Cath from 7:00 - 8:00. This means TELL all of your friends who have been waiting and wanting to start WCS that this is their golden opportunity. Another of Alan Gaskell's monthly Foxtrot for Dancers happens on Tuesday, January 10th 7:00 - 9:00 We are having a great time with learning a new dance and the DJs play a foxtrot every Sunday night so that we can have a bit of practice. The Beginner Dance Sampler Lives On!!! Friday nights in January - Beginner Night Club and Friday nights in February Beginner West Coast Swing. JOIN THE FUN & LEARN A NEW DANCE! Scroll down for more details, May your holidays be bright, JoEllen”

I am lost for words with the sadness that has touched my heart in missing JoEllen, but yet find myself typing away over here as there are not enough words that can bring such light to such a wonderful friend and more! I will leave you with a few words that warm my heart and hope they reach you as she has reached me.

Memories of JoEllen

Selfless, giving, congenial, happy, free, loving, super, special, wholesome, gentle, vibrant, sincere, mellow, creative, groovy, harmonious, sacrificial, easy going, lively, fruitful, fun, compassionate, and spirited. Our admiration of JoEllen will deeply last in all of us, and she will continue to be an inspiration always!

With much love, let’s enjoy and remember JoEllen’s exact words from her last email to us,

“Wishing you all the very best of the Holiday Season a Calm & Peaceful Solstice, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, a Happy Kwanzaa and of course Happy New Year. Just keep dancing! May your holidays be bright, JoEllen”

Love in dancing for our Dear JoEllen,

Jennifer Lyons


The Boston Globe

JoEllen Farricker, 57; brought Wayland to the dance floor

By Emma Stickgold, Globe Correspondent  |  December 31, 2005

JoEllen (Orsillo) Farricker, a vivacious dancer, was the driving force behind a popular Wayland dance program that attracted people from miles around to come and do the Charleston kick and the cha-cha-cha.

Mrs. Farricker ''had an internal grace that carried her on the floor like nobody else I've ever met," said Jennifer Lyons, a longtime friend who taught occasional dance classes at the Longfellow Club, which Mrs. Farricker co-owned.

Decked out in colorful ensembles that typically included at least one item in her favorite color, purple, ''she looked beautiful on the dance floor," said longtime friend and instructor Sue Cath.

The longtime Wayland resident died Monday in Massachusetts General Hospital after suffering a stroke. She was 57.

''We've been holding dances for 10 years, but it's only mushroomed, and I mean really mushroomed, in the last year," she told the Globe in August. ''The whole ballroom floor fills with people, and they're not there chatting. Everyone is dancing."

Whether it was the Sunday Country Mix Dance or a free lesson in two-step dancing, Mrs. Farricker greeted folks at the door with warm words of encouragement when she wasn't out on the hardwood floor. At the end of the recorded message on her voicemail, she signed off with, a cheery ''Dance on!"

She and her husband, Myke, were the pair to watch, Cath and Lyons said, and the couple could often be seen in local dance competitions. ''I guess her dream job was to be able to have some kind of job where she could plan functions, so it was a really a great job that she had," her husband said.

Mrs. Farricker was born in Somerville and grew up in Lexington. She attended the University of Massachusetts at Boston and Massachusetts Bay Community College before becoming assistant manager at the Longfellow Club in Wayland. In 1980, she and her husband took over ownership with another couple, and Mrs. Farricker created and developed the fitness center's dance program. She also gave swimming lessons to people of all ages.

This fall, Mrs. Farricker was determined to learn how to lead, ''since she was so good at following," Cath said.

When disaster struck, locally or internationally, she would immediately organize a dance function to benefit the cause, most recently for Hurricane Katrina victims.

''It wasn't a manic energy, but she just got a lot of things done and was never tired," her husband said.

''She was a wonderful cook, a wonderful craftsperson, just a real free spirit, a very unusual woman," Cath said.

Besides her husband, Mrs. Farricker leaves three daughters, Sarah West of Asheville, N.C., Abby M. of San Diego, and Zoe of Wayland; her mother, Eleanor (Marchetti) Orsillo of Marlborough; three sisters, Nancy Studivan of Hudson, Joyce Anderson of Englewood, Fla., and Elaine Orsillo of Milan; and a brother, Michael Orsillo of Concord, N.H.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. today in First Parish Unitarian Church in Wayland. Burial is private. 

© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


Jo Ellen Farricker

MetroWest Daily News      Wednesday, December 28, 2005

WAYLAND -- Jo Ellen (Orsillo) Farricker, 57, of Wayland, died unexpectedly Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2005, at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston after suffering a stroke on Friday, Dec. 23.
    She was the wife of Myke Farricker.
    Born in Somerville, she was the daughter of Eleanor M. (Marchetti) Orsillo of Marlborough and the late Joseph M. Orsillo.
    Mrs. Farricker had been a resident of Wayland for the past 20 years and previously resided in Lexington.
She was a graduate of Lexington High School, Class of 1965, and attended the University of Massachusetts in Boston and Massachusetts Bay Community College.
    For 20 years, she had been the assistant manager at Wayland Longfellow Club, where she created and directed the Longfellow Dance program and was a water exercise instructor and involved in the fitness programs. She and her husband were competitive country dancers.
    She was a talented and creative person who designed and created many dolls and quilts. She was an assistant in the art programs through Wayland public schools for the fourth- and fifth-graders at the Loker School. She also assisted in the design and sewing of many costumes for Wayland Middle School plays. She enjoyed gardening, attending yard and rummage sales and was the director of the Unitarian Rummage Sale. She was a loving and devoted wife and mother.
    Besides her husband and mother, she leaves her children, Sarah West of Asheville, N.C., Abby M. Farricker of San Diego and Zoe Farricker of Wayland; her siblings, Nancy Studivan and her husband, Earl, of Hudson, Joyce Anderson and her husband, Gary, of Englewood, Fla., Elaine Orsillo of Milan, Italy, and Michael Orsillo and his wife, Annie Jones, of Concord, N.H.; her mother-in-law, Elbee Farricker of Stamford, Conn.; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
    A funeral service will be held Saturday, Dec. 31, at 11 a.m., at
       First Parish Unitarian Church, Rte. 20 and Cochituate Road, Wayland Centre.
    Burial will be private and at the convenience of the family.
    Visiting hours will be held Friday, Dec. 30, from 5 to 8 p.m., at
       John C. Bryant Funeral Home, 56 Pemberton Road (off Rte. 30), Wayland.
    Instead of flowers, her family suggests memorial donations be made to
       Massachusetts General Hospital, Att; Stroke Service, 55 Fruit St., Boston, MA 02114.


The Boston Globe  ARTS

Sports club by day, then dance hall by night

By Denise Taylor  |  August 4, 2005

They apple jack. They camel walk. They Charleston kick and cha-cha-cha. Visit the Longfellow Club on an otherwise sleepy Sunday, and JoEllen Farricker promises ''you won't believe your eyes."

This Wayland sports club becomes a dance hall open to all by night, and lately the growing Sunday Country Mix Dance crowd has needed every inch of the 3,000-square-foot space, partly because country dancing is now a little bit rock 'n' roll.

''We've been holding dances for 10 years, but it's only mushroomed, and I mean really mushroomed, in the last year," said Farricker, who schedules six nights of lessons and dances at the club. ''The whole ballroom floor fills with people, and they're not there chatting. Everyone is dancing."

Farricker believes there are several reasons for the upsurge in new dancers. First, she said, the ''extreme dancing" trend in line dancing is drawing a new, younger crowd.

''Line dances are choreographed to a particular song, so for every song there's a specific dance. For example, there's a dance called the Texas Charleston that is done to the country song, 'Texas Tattoo,' " she said.

''But now, in extreme dancing, people are choreographing line dances to contemporary songs, such as Will Smith's 'Switch' or the Black Eyed Peas's 'Let's Get It Started.' And sometimes they're taking old dances and setting them to new songs. They're doing the Texas Charleston to 'Switch' now."

The media's current infatuation with dance is recruiting new twinkletoes as well. ''With all the dance TV shows and movies like 'Mad Hot Ballroom,' I think there's going to be an even bigger mushrooming," said Farricker, who lives in Wayland. ''I'm adding ballroom classes for the fall because people want to learn the fox trot after watching John [O'Hurley] on 'Dancing with the Stars.' "

Longfellow may be a particular magnet for new dance enthusiasts because of its open lessons, which are taught by veterans of the national competitive dance scene, including award-winner Steele Shane of Marlborough.

The club last year began including free lessons with admission to the dance. ''People started telling people about it and suddenly lots of people were coming," Farricker said. ''Two-step is a great place to begin because you start basic and then you build. One of our teachers always tells her students: 'Two-step was invented by a bunch of drunk Texans. If they can do it, so can you.' "