Isaac Newton Farris Sr. was a founding member of the King Center Board of Trustees. Farris died Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, at the age of 83.
Photo: Photo courtesy of The King Center
Photo: Photo courtesy of The King Center

Atlanta’s King family mourns passing of Isaac Farris Sr.

The family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is mourning the loss of one of its patriarchs.

Isaac Newton Farris Sr., husband of Christine King Farris and brother-in-law of Martin Luther King Jr., died peacefully at home Saturday, the family announced. He was 83.

Farris, a founding member of the King Center Board of Trustees, married Christine King Farris in 1960 in a ceremony performed by her brothers, Martin and A.D.

Farris was an entrepreneur who served as a project manager for the construction of the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change. He also was a deacon and trustee at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he was a member for more than 60 years.

“My father was a very strong man, a very religious man,” his son, Isaac Farris Jr., told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday. 

After the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and A.D. King, Farris said his father became “a pillar of strength” for the family. He also helped establish and build the King Center.

Farris did not seek out the limelight, his son said. 

“He did not have a large ego, but he was a secure man,” Farris said. “Because he didn’t need the spotlight, I don’t think a lot of people realized how important a force he was within our family.”

Family matriarch Alberta Williams King is flanked by her sons, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on her right and A.D. King on her left. Isaac Newton Farris, the husband of her daughter, Christine, stands behind them. (AJC file photo)

Farris’ daughter, Angela Farris Watkins, said her father was strong but “very loving and unassuming.”

“He was full of wisdom,” she said. “He was the rock for our entire family.”

In addition to his wife, a professor emerita at Spelman College, and his children, he is survived by a granddaughter, Farris Watkins; sister Gail Farris Joyce; and many nephews, nieces and cousins. Funeral arrangements will be handled by Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home in Atlanta.

Read and sign the online guestbook for Isaac Newton Farris Sr.

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