At 98, Oakley Farris Finds New Life and Purpose — And Bill Scheyer, the Son He Didn’t Know He Had

September 24, 2022 3:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Source: Northern Kentucky Tribune

At 98, Oakley Farris Finds New Life and Purpose — And Bill Scheyer, the Son He Didn’t Know He Had

At 98, Oakley Farris was dealing with the deepest possible grief, mourning the death of his beloved Eva to whom he was married for 72 years. He faced being “frozen in time” for the remainder of his life with only his sweet memories to keep him company.

But Farris is a positive fellow — and perhaps a charmed one as well — who believes that when one door closes, another opens.

When their paths crossed at a social function in 2012

When the other, miraculous door opened, on the other side was the unsuspecting Bill Scheyer who has come to learn — and genetic testing has positively confirmed — that Oakley Farris is his “real” father.

These are two giants of Northern Kentucky — one a pull-yourself-up-by-bootstraps entreprenuer cum philanthropist and the other who devoted 40-plus years of his life in service to NKY, lastly as head of Skyward (formerly Vision 2020). They had circled each other in their orbit around NKY, knew each other well enough for polite social interchanges here and there, but never really connected.

Today, that is changing and for both of them, it is an unanticipated adventure. A discovery in the making. Who knows where it can go?

It all started with 23andMe, an online biotech company that, for a fee, can tell you all you want to know about your DNA. Farris had heard about it from a young man who had a positive experience — and, not wanting to be left out, decided to try the service himself. His results told him he had relatives he knew nothing about and, one thing leading to another, his friend Mike Hammons identified his successor at Vision 2020, Bill Scheyer, as a person of interest.

Hammons accompanied both men to their genetic testing, which confirmed the father-son connection. It was “a little intimidating,” Scheyer said, “for two old guys to be sitting in that waiting room with an assortment of young people.”

. . .And the conversations go on.

“Oakley never imagined he had a son,” said Scheyer, who also never imagined that the man he always considered his father was, in fact, not his biological father.

Scheyer’s mom and her husband were divorced when he was a small boy. He and his mom lived in Covington and moved around a lot, but always in the First District school area. Her ex-husband lived in Cincinnati and, as Scheyer described it, was just briefly in and out of his life but not part of it. The “father figure” he credits as helping make him the man he is today was an uncle with whom he spent a lot of time. His mom, her husband, and his uncle are now deceased.

Apparently, Oakley, a handsome, unattached young man from eastern Kentucky and a traveling salesman, met Scheyer’s mom at church in Covington — and she invited him to her apartment. Oakley moved on, she never told him she was pregnant, and she married Scheyer’s “father” soon after.

As for Farris, he says Scheyer “came along at just the right time.”

“I could have ended up with an ax murderer or a bum, but I gained a wonderful son, and I am absolutely enjoying getting to know him.”

The two have started spending time together, just talking and getting acquainted in the most delightful ways.

“I am usually laughing,” Scheyer said. “Oakley is a character, and when I’m talking with him, it’s reminiscent of talking to my older relatives. I feel a kinship there. He is ‘Kentucky’ all the way to his roots, and so am I.

“I will say that we are definitely alike in this way — We are happy and confident of the lives we’ve had, in the people we know and love, and neither of us would change any of that.”

In addition to leadership of Vision 2020/Skyward, Scheyer was city administrator for Erlanger, president of Southbank Partners, and president of Green Umbrella. He graduated from Northern Kentucky University — and from Holmes High School where he has been inducted into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni. He loves to talk about public policy issues and says he and Oakley haven’t really disagreed on anything yet.

“I’m getting a kick out of the relationship,” he says. “We are finding a natural rhythm. And we’re enjoying it.”

As for Farris, he is “still digesting all this information. . .I’m taking my time. Longevity has its pros and cons.

“I’d say this is a pro.”

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