by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Paul Farley came to Grain Valley as a teacher and coach around 1926 or 1927. In 1931, he replaced Homer Clements (Valley News, February 17, 2022) as superintendent. In the early years he wore several hats as a well-liked teacher, class chaperone and coach. He was the superintendent for 10 years, departing in 1941.
During that time, Grain Valley established a school newspaper and yearbook. They added commercial classes, industrial arts and home economics to the curriculum. Band and choir became a regular part of the school day. Students began acting in school plays. It would appear that Grain Valley District 3 grew from just a place for learning with a little basketball and football thrown in for “fun,” to a school that offered the students a variety of educational experiences. I have been told by older Grain Valley residents and relatives that Mr. Farley was very “progressive” and forward thinking.
Paul Jacob Farley was born on May 10, 1903, to Harriet and Thomas Farley. The youngest of four children, he grew up in Taylor County, Iowa, but moved to Lafayette County, Missouri, after his father’s death in 1907. He attended the University of Dubuque, a private Presbyterian university in Dubuque, Iowa to play football.
According to the 1921 edition of The Key (college yearbook) Paul was on the team, but he also had a starring role in the all-student production of The Fortune Hunter. After one year at Dubuque, he transferred to Central Missouri State Teachers College. The 1922 Rhetor yearbook shows him as a member of the sophomore class.
On August 14, 1924, he married Mary Vina Dyer. Their oldest daughter Mary Paulina was born in Aullville, Missouri in 1925. Their younger daughter, Lillian Joan was born in Grain Valley in 1929. Both girls attended school in Grain Valley and Paulina graduated from GVHS with the Class of 1941.
The Farley family moved to California, eventually settling in Ventura. They returned to Grain Valley for visits at least twice that I can remember. While I only met Mr. Farley a few times, I always heard about the Farleys. He and his wife, Mary Vina were very active in the school, the community and the Grain Valley Methodist Church.
Because they were close friends with my aunt and uncle, they would stay at their house when they visited. They sent jelly, a special treat, to them at Christmastime from Knott’s Berry Farm! In 1955 Opal and Clyde (Fristoe) visited them in California. I remember thinking how exciting it was to travel so far away. Also, it was the year that Disneyland opened and I very much hoped they would take me with them. (No, they did not!)
Next time you are at GVHS, check out the composite pictures outside the high school gym. You’ll see several photos of Paul J. Farley, Superintendent of Schools!
Paul Farley (back row, first from left) with the Class of 1929. Photo credit: Grain Valley Historical Society