Romance in the Lab

Farleys Honored with Naming of Education Building at Timberlake Biological Field Station

They shared a microscope in Lula Gough’s botany class at John Tarleton Agricultural College, but that was enough to kindle a romance between John Farley and Lillie May Reid. That spark, lit in the 1930-31 school year, started a long marriage and deep love for Tarleton State University.

The Tarleton connection reached another level recently when the couple were honored with the naming of the Farley Education Building at the Timberlake Biological Field Station and the placing of a microscope from the biology lab.

Farley Education Building Dedication

Spanning 800 acres in Mills County, the field station is home to an array of indigenous plants and wildlife, giving student researchers a rich pallet of intellectual and hands-on resources.

Five generations have enjoyed friendship within the facility’s namesake Timberlake and Johanson families. The families have been close for over a century.

Marilynn Timberlake Johanson and her husband, Dr. Lamar Johanson, are longtime Tarleton supporters. The two established the Timberlake Biological Field Station Research Support Endowment to provide stipends as well as travel funds for student scholars to present their research at national scientific meetings and conferences.

A second endowment — the Lamar and Marilynn T. Johanson Biological Sciences Scholarship Endowment — generates scholarships for biology and biomedical science majors.

“Education is very important throughout the entire Farley family,” Dr. Johanson said in remarks at the naming ceremony. “Lillie May had an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, and the three boys are all graduates of Texas A&M. There is at least one PhD in the family and several master’s degrees, and one of John and Lillie May’s great-granddaughters recently received her bachelor of nursing degree from Texas Tech.”

Dr. Johanson retired in 2001 after 40 years at Tarleton, including 18 as Dean of the former College of Arts and Sciences. Marilynn served Texas public schools for 34 years as a classroom teacher in Hico and Stephenville high schools, an education specialist with the Texas Education Agency, and high school and elementary school principal in the Strawn and Goldthwaite ISDs. She received the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus honor from the Tarleton Alumni Association.

The new classroom building gifted from the John and Lillie May Farley family will expand undergraduate and graduate research in areas ranging from aquatic and plant ecology to herpetology and ornithology.

“We are extremely thankful for friends like the Farley and Johanson families,” said Tarleton President James Hurley. “Their tremendous financial support helps our students expand their horizons and pursue their passions.”

Area school children find the Timberlake Biological Field Station a special place for learning. A main goal is to excite K-12 students about the natural world while involving them in the scientific process. To this end, TBFS partners with the Alvarado, Comanche and Goldthwaite school districts to host events throughout the school year.

The field station was established in 2015 to advance environmental research, engage students in scientific discovery, and promote stewardship of the natural world. It focuses on education, outreach and research associated with the ecological integrity of the Colorado River and the diverse flora and fauna of the Cross Timbers and Edwards Plateau ecoregions of Texas.

It serves as a host site for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program and is a member of the Undergraduate Field Experiences Research Network, both sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Click here and select Timberlake Biological Field Station to make a donation.