JONESBORO (1/24/09) – The Arkansas State University Athletic Department announced Saturday it has received a $125,000 donation, one of the larger gifts in its history, from long-time supporter and 1950’s ASU All-America football player Frank Farella.
Farella’s donation becomes the second gift of over $100,000 given to ASU over the last five months and the fourth since 2004. A portion of the $125,000 donation from Farella will go to complete the Gene Harlow Endowment, while the remainder will be used to assist with facility projects and other enhancements to the ASU Athletics program.
“We are proud to announce this generous donation from one of ASU’s all-time finest,” said ASU Director of Athletics Dr. Dean Lee. “Evidence by his accolades, Frank Farella was a tremendous representative for ASU during his time with the football program and continues to be a great ambassador for both the University and our athletic department. We are grateful to him for this gift, which is only part of the many ways he continues to give back to Arkansas State Athletics.”
“I’m very pleased to be a part of the Frank Farella major gift to the athletic department,” said Bill Templeton, current ASU Director of Major Gifts and former coach and football letterman. “Frank has always been the type of person that he wants to help the ASU Athletic Department because it has meant so much to him throughout his life. It says a lot about a person making a trip over 1,100 miles for homecoming every year and I’m just happy to be a former teammate of Frank’s.”
ASU lost an important part of its football history with the passing of former head coach Gene Harlow on New Year’s Eve in 1998. To honor his memory, the Red Wolf Club established the Coach Gene Harlow Memorial Fund. Farella played all three seasons during Harlow’s tenure as head football coach at ASU from 1955-57.
Farella was a four-year letterman with the ASU football team from 1954-57, earning All-America recognition at his guard position in both 1956 and 1957. One of ASU’s co-captains on the football team in 1957, Farella was named an Associated Press, Williamson and NCAA All-America selection as a senior. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native was also an Associated Press and NAIA All-America selection as a junior in 1956.
“I was just a kid from Brooklyn, wasn’t really going to college and then ASU gave me an opportunity for a scholarship that allowed me to play football and get an education,” said Farella. “In some way I am trying to pay back, if I can, my earlier life and wanted to help out the school. We have a wonderful institution with great programs in an outstanding area. One thing I’ve learned in business is everyone is always underfinanced, even schools. You need money to operate at a high level and we should have more of that from our alumni. If I can show some people that maybe this is the way to contribute, then I’m happy to do that and help out wherever I can. We’ve had some people start doing that with large donations to the athletic department and I want to help the program along and bring more people into it.
“I also have a wonderful association with Bill Templeton, and being close with him and him a big part of the athletic program, I wanted to help out as much as I can,” added Farella.
Since graduating from Arkansas State University in 1958, Farella has worked as a real estate broker and developer in the Brooklyn, New York, area and built a name in the industry. He is well known for his investment and restoration of the historic Cobble Hill Towers in Brooklyn. It has also been well documented that Farella kept rents low at Cobble Hill Towers in order to give, as stated by a recent New York Times article, “regular folks a chance to live in an area they would otherwise be unable to afford.”
Cobble Hill Towers was the first housing built in America for working people in 1876 and Farella bought the nine-building towers in 1975 before starting a three-year renovation project in 1978. The property was slated for demolition before Farella saved and renovated them in order to provide good housing for people with moderate income. The Cobble Hill Towers preceded all the low-to-moderate income housing in America, remains a national landmark and one of Farella’s biggest projects.
Farella’s Cobble Hill Towers project sat on an acre of land and had a significant impact on the revitalization to the struggling neighborhood surrounding it. The renovation to Farella’s property not only provided good housing for working people, but also made it an attractive area for people buying houses. Farella, a family man with five children, entered the real estate business in 1963 after serving in the Army for two years.
“I think there are three phases of life - you become educated, you learn and acquire and then you serve,” said Farella. “I’m in the final stage of serving and I want to serve my college, my family and my friends for the rest of my life.”
“Frank feels so indebted to Arkansas State for the opportunities he received as a result of his degree that he has just a great feeling for the University,” said Ray Roback, who played with Farella at ASU and noted Farella had the respect of everyone he played with. “Over the 50 years that I’ve known him, Frank has been in constant contact over those years with me about Arkansas State and we’ve gotten together for several games. He is just a huge fan of Arkansas State and he is very appreciative of what he received as a result of his scholarship and education. Everything he gives is heart felt and you won’t get a better fan or better alumni than Frank.”
“I played with Frank in high school and he was always a good, tough football player,” said Eddie Romeo, another teammate of Farella’s at ASU. “When he got to Arkansas State he became a starter real quick and was the team captain. He has always been very conscientious about Arkansas State and I think it is really great what he’s doing for its athletic programs.”
“Frank is a very loyal person that was an excellent football player and I’m proud to be his teammate,” said former ASU standout running back Howard Cissell. “He was a great leader on our team. Whatever he did, he took it seriously and gave a 100-percent effort. I can’t say enough about Frank. I know the athletic department certainly appreciates (his donation) and I’m happy that he’s in a position to do that.”
“Frank Farella didn’t have all the nice things that a lot of people had as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, and Arkansas State gave him a scholarship,” said Farella’s former teammate Woody Harlan. “He has been very successful in the business world and I think Arkansas State had a lot to do with that. I think Frank could’ve played anywhere, but he loves Arkansas State and is one of the great football players to come out of Arkansas State.”