William Farr received his medical education at the University of Cincinnati in the United States where he earned a PhD in pharmacology, and the MD degree. He taught cardiovascular physiology and experimental medicine until he moved to Tucson, Arizona, to pursue further clinical training. He practiced geriatrics/hospice/palliative care in Tucson for 20 years while also being in solo practice and, simultaneously, a medical director of two health maintenance organizations for several years.
In 1976, he became the medical director of the Hillhaven Hospice in Tucson, the first freestanding hospice facility in the US. Hillhaven was one of three hospices chosen to participate in a three-year National Cancer Institute contract to study the feasibility of applying the British hospice model in the American health care system; he was also the co-principal investigator. He continued as medical director of the successor hospice program, Carondelet Hospice, Tucson, until his retirement from medicine in 1995. After his retirement, he and his wife owned a beef cattle farm in Georgia. They spent most of their time caring for the land and cattle.
Dr. Farr became involved with the International Hospice Institute (IHI) in 1980 and was invited by its president, Dr. Jo Magno, to serve on the board as her vice-president. Eventually, two independent organizations were founded by IHI – The International Hospice Institute and College (IHIC), which replaced IHI, and the Academy of Hospice Physicians (1988). He was a founding board member of the Academy, which eventually separated and became an independent entity (American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine). He continued as vice-president of IHIC, which evolved into IAHPC.
Dr. Farr was, along with Josephine Magno, Derek Doyle, and Roger Woodruff, one of the founders of the IAHPC and served on the organization’s board since its inception as a Lifetime member. In this role, he was also the founding editor of the IAHPC newsletter, which was first published in April 1997, and continued in this position for 17 years until stepping down to become senior newsletter advisor.
Dr. Farr was also a ruling elder in his church and an online counselor about spiritual issues for the worldwide Internet ministry, Peace with God, of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Dr. Farr passed away peacefully on January 2nd 2024. His contribution to IAHPC and the field of hospice and palliative care was gigantic, and he will be greatly missed.