Riverdale woman overcomes trial to build successful business

Thursday , March 16, 2017 - 12:28 PM

MARK SAAL, Standard-Examiner Staff

RIVERDALE — Call her “Battwoman.” Everyone else does.

That’s “batt” with two T’s, as in the fluffy, white material that’s wadded into sheets and used as filling inside quilts and other sewing projects.

LuAnn Farr, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, owns Winline Textile Products, a small-but-growing batting business based out of her Riverdale home. Her current business success actually grew out of a health challenge she faced back in the early 2000s.

An Ogden native, Farr was born at the old Dee Hospital, and grew up on Goddard Street, just off Washington Boulevard. Her parents owned El Sombrero Restaurant, on Washington, but then moved the family to Centerville where they opened up the Frostop restaurant. Farr attended Viewmont High School, graduating in 1974. Eventually, she returned to Junction City.

“Ogden must be my town, because I met an Ogden guy, and we’ve been married 38 years,” she said.

Her husband, Don Farr, was an area homebuilder for many years. Since he was self-employed, the couple needed health insurance when they started having children. LuAnn took a job at Morton International — now Autoliv — and worked a 6 a.m. shift, primarily for the medical coverage.

“You’re off at 2 p.m., so you beat the kiddies home and can still be a mama,” she explained.

Then, in 2001, Farr began having severe headaches. Her oldest daughter talked her into going to an after-hours clinic, where they diagnosed a sinus infection and sent her home with pain pills, a decongestant and an antibiotic. But Farr’s daughter wasn’t satisfied, and pressed her mother to get a second opinion. She relented, and went to the hospital.

“Right when I got there, I did a projectile throw-up,” Farr says. “The doctor looks at me and says, ‘I’d like a CAT scan on her immediately.’ ”

It wasn’t a sinus infection after all. Rather, it was a tumor the size of an egg, pressing against Farr’s brain. She was immediately admitted to the hospital, and scheduled for brain surgery.

When she was diagnosed with the brain tumor, Farr says she had no shortage of support.

“I’m laying up there in McKay-Dee Hospital, and everybody came to see me,” she said. “The whole neighborhood, the whole ward. It was almost like a big party at first, like a big reunion — all these people came to see me and brought me flowers. It was all wonderful.”

But then came the night before her surgery.

“That night, everybody’s gone,” Farr said. “I’m in my room up there at the hospital — alone — and all of a sudden I’m freaking out. I’m thinking, ‘They are going to cut my head open in the morning!’ I’m, like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t do this!’ ”

Farr called her husband, in tears, and told him she couldn’t go through with the surgery. Don Farr contacted a neighbor, Carl B. Cook (now a member of the LDS Church’s First Quorum of the Seventy), and they went to the hospital and gave Farr a blessing — placing their hands on her head and offering a prayer.

“Carl gave me the most beautiful priesthood blessing,” Farr recalls. “He just gave me peace of mind.”

Farr says the promises in Cook’s blessing were fully realized. Doctors had told her that, after the surgery, her one eye probably would not close completely, and that she’d have short-term memory loss.

“But Carl told me I would be 100 percent,” Farr said. “And between you and me? I have a better memory than my husband — he can’t remember for crap.”

Fortunately, the tumor turned out to be “a benign blob,” according to Farr. But it was a wake-up call of sorts, and it changed the way Farr approached her life. She didn’t want to go back to her old job — she wanted to have her own business, be her own boss. Her brother, a representative for a fabric company, told Farr what his industry really needed was some good quilt batting.

And thus Winline Textile Products was born. Today, Farr runs it with her husband — yes, he regularly gets called “Battman” — and the business continues to see steady, gradual growth.

“I’ve been very blessed,” she said. “(The bottom line) goes up every year.”

Winline also has a contract to provide wholesale batting for the LDS Church’s humanitarian efforts.

About five days a week, Farr and her best friend, neighbor Holly Milne, go walking. They talk about their respective businesses, discuss things that have happened in their lives, and sometimes even plan healthy menus for the week. Milne says they also share a lot of faith-building experiences that help them to recognize the tender mercies that have come about as a result of trials like Farr’s brain tumor.

“We try to keep it upbeat and positive to get a positive start to the day,” Milne said. “It’s a very productive walk — not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. It’s a great 60 minutes.”

Milne said the two have known each other for about 25 years, and started walking together six years ago. Milne calls Farr “very faith-driven” and says she’s in tune with the spirit and those spiritual promptings that come along.

“She is a great example that trials do not have to bring you down, so you can still feel joy in your life,” Milne said. “And we’ve both had some trials in our lives. Everyone is going to get hit at some time or another — there’s no way around it — so it’s how you handle trials that’s important.”

Farr believe attitude is everything; that when you think in negative terms, you get negative results. She believes the trial of her brain tumor was not only for her, but for those around her.

“It made a big influence on the people in the ward,” Farr said. “My neighbors, my family, my children — it was a good experience for them to see what I went through. I think they saw an answer to prayer, they saw the work of the priesthood.”

Today, Farr says she lives by a quote from Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles for the LDS Church. In a 2004 fireside address at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Holland said:

“God expects you to have enough faith and determination and enough trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. In fact, He expects you not simply to face the future (that sounds pretty grim and stoic); He expects you to embrace and shape the future — to love it and rejoice in it and delight in your opportunities. God is anxiously waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream. In short, He can’t if you don’t believe.”

Farr says, for her, it all comes down to that belief. It’s one of the lessons she learned from her experience with the egg-sized brain tumor.

“When I get up, I think positive thoughts,” she said. “And I have to start my day with scripture and prayer. You have to ward off the enemy to start the day.”

Farr explains it’s the batting — that unseen stuff on the inside — that is most important in making a quilt.

“The batting actually determines the whole quilt,” she said. “How long it will last, how it feels, if it will drape and feel soft — that all has to do with what’s on the inside.”

And as it is with quilts, so it is with people. It’s what’s on the inside that’s most important.

Just ask Battwoman.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarkSaal.

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