The University of Mobile family mourns the passing of former trustee and longtime supporter Karlene Frazier Farmer Faulkner, who died Wednesday, March 9, at the age of 97.
“She was a leader in our community who was an inspiration to others, both by her actions and through her gentle and encouraging spirit,” said UMobile President Dr. Mark Foley. “She was a gracious lady whose Christian faith, wisdom and support were a personal encouragement to me. While our university family is saddened at her passing, we also celebrate her life as an example of a woman of faith and substance.”
Foley pointed to a 1988 Mobile Press-Register article announcing her selection as First Lady of Mobile, in which she said of her plans for the future, “I’d just like to go on being of service in a quiet sort of way, the rest of the years God gives me.”
“She certainly accomplished her goal, as all who knew her or were touched in some way through her quiet service can attest,” Foley said.
Karlene Frazier Farmer Faulkner grew up in rural Georgia, the daughter of a farmer and one girl among five brothers. She married Matthew Carleton “M.C.” Farmer, completed business college, and moved to Mobile, Alabama, where they started a construction business in 1950.
The Farmers were active in the founding, growth and development of the University of Mobile, then Mobile College, also serving as leaders in the Mobile community and Dauphin Way Baptist Church. Together, they established the M.C. and Karlene Farmer Scholarship, one of the largest endowed scholarship funds for the University of Mobile, which continues to provide financial aid to students planning to enter Christian ministries. M.C. served as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, and Karlene was a founding member of the Mobile College Auxiliary and served as co-chairman of the Scholarship Committee.
In 1987, shortly after her husband’s death, Karlene Farmer was named First Lady of Mobile in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the community. She served various organizations including the Pilot Club of Mobile, the Pilot Club International Foundation, Goodwill Industries, the Board of Retired Senior Volunteers, the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge, the Fine Arts Museum of the South, the Historic Preservation Society, Mobile Eye Bank, the Civic Roundtable, the Joint Legislative Council, and Dauphin Way Baptist Church, among others.
She married James H. “Jimmy” Faulkner Sr. of Bay Minette, Alabama, a leader in business, government and media. Together, they shared a deep commitment to Christian higher education and developing the talents of young men and women. Jimmy Faulkner died at the age of 92 in 2008.
She served as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees from 1987 to 1996, where she was as a member of the Buildings and Grounds Committee. Her generous gifts included funds for the construction of the M.C. Farmer Building, a classroom and faculty office building.
In 1991, the University of Mobile awarded her the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. In 2006 the university honored her by naming the new 151-bed women’s residence hall “Karlene Farmer Faulkner Hall.”
“At the dedication, she met many of the residents of Faulkner Hall. It was a warm moment personally for me to watch the pure delight in her face as she engaged with these young women,” Foley said.
A University of Mobile Board of Trustees resolution says of Karlene Frazier Farmer Faulkner:
“Her sincere humility and gracious spirit has inspired and provided encouragement, hope and faith for those who have been fortunate enough to know her.”
Visitation will be Monday, March 14 at 10 a.m. at Dauphin Way Baptist Church, 3661 Dauphin St., Mobile, Alabama, 36608. Funeral services will follow at 11 a.m., officiated by Dr. Mark Foley and Dr. Adam Dooley, senior pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church.
This portrait of Karlene Frazier Farmer Faulkner hangs
in Faulkner Hall at the University of Mobile.
Mrs. Farmer Faulkner talks with a UMobile student as Dr. Mark Foley looks on at a
reception in her honor at Faulkner Hall.
Some of the residents of Faulkner Hall at reception with Mrs. Farmer Faulkner.