Former Equality NC (ENC) co-director Ed Farthing has passed away at the age of 75 while hospitalized at Catawba Valley Medical Center.

A long time resident of Hickory, he was born July 2, 1947, in Greensboro. He was a graduate of the Grimsley High School Class of 1965, the UNC-Chapel Hill Undergraduate Class of 1965 (with a degree in History) and UNC law school’s Class of 1972.

He served as an attorney in Hickory from 1972 to 2003, before joining Equality NC from 2003 to 2008 as a political and LGBTQ community organizer. Farthing continued fundraising and volunteering for many local organizations throughout his life, always holding fast to the belief of giving back to the community.

In addition, Farthing served on the boards of the NC Association of Defense Attorneys and the NC Legal Education Fund, which helps pay law school debt for attorneys who serve as district attorneys or work for legal aid organizations. One of his more notable accomplishments for the LGBTQ community was founding and serving as president of the NC Gay and Lesbian Attorneys Association.

An active member of the Hickory Community Relations Council and the president of the Green Park neighborhood association, he was also a three-term elder at Northminster Presbyterian Church.

Farthing was known for his work with multiple LGBTQ organizations in North Carolina and helped form the Foothills Gentlemen to create connections among local gay men and Come Out, an organization designed to build connections between the local gay and lesbian communities. 

At the time of his passing on November 21, he had remained active in OutRight Youth of Catawba Valley, an organization providing a safe space for LBGTQ students.

Later in life, Ed discovered a love of hiking and the joy of being in the woods. He was an avid hiker for the past 15 to 20 years, completing over 450 miles of the Appalachian Trail and many sections of the Mountain to Sea trail here in Western North Carolina.

In a recently released statement the ENC offered their thoughts and fond recollections of one of North Carolina’s most revered leaders in the LGBTQ Community.

“We’re heartbroken at the news and send our thoughts to his loved ones.” The statement read. “Ed was a strong leader of Equality NC, helping build the organization to where it is today. A longtime advocate in the movement, he served ENC for 4 years as co-director, helming the organization during the early 2000s.” 

Said Ian Palmquist, who served as co-director with Farthing:

“In our two-and-a-half years as co-directors, we took a financially fragile organization and built a foundation for growth in the years that followed, and invested deeply in becoming truly statewide, spending time reaching out in Western and Eastern NC, not just Triangle/Triad/Charlotte as it had been before. We did a lot of events and brought on board members representing more of the state. He was always an optimist and brought a playful attitude even when we were facing some really frustrating times.

Ed Farthing is survived by his son, Brit Farthing and wife, Jenny and their children, Kora and Karis Farthing.

Memorials may be made to OutRight Youth or ALFA.

A celebration of his life was held Saturday, Dec. 3, at Northminster Presbyterian Church. For those unable to attend the service, it can be streamed via YouTube.

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