Dee Farris grew up in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and North Carolina, graduating from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with a BS in Dental Hygiene. After working in that field for a while, Dee knew it wasn’t for her, so she applied to pharmaceutical companies and began working with Schering Plough in Virginia Beach.
Her girlfriend was in the service and was transferred to Maryland, where Dee applied and was selected for an oncology sales position with Schering. For 22 years, she sold drugs for melanoma, Hep C, prostate cancer, brain tumors, and a drug named Emend, which can help prevent some side effects of chemotherapy. Ironically, this drug (Emend) helped her through her own cancer and chemo treatments.
Dee, a die-hard Tar Heels men’s basketball fan, was fortunate enough to see them live when they won the National Championship in April of 2017. This was just a few days after her final radiation treatment.
Dee’s dad is now 90 and until last year, her family went on overseas trips every September. Dee and her brother called these trips “SKI Vacations” (Spending the Kids’ Inheritance). Dee’s mother died 12 years ago, and because her father liked travel, she and her brother said, “Let’s go.” Together, the family has been to Spain, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Canada, Russia, Estonia, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, Japan, Korea, Guam, the Philippines, Italy, and Greece. Their last trip was a river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. Her bucket list trip is Australia.
Dee bought her first house here in 1997, becoming a full-timer in December 2012. She likes to garden, and says every year, “No more flowers,” but somehow they manage to get into her cart.
When did you start volunteering at CAMP Rehoboth?
What events/activities have you been involved with as a volunteer?
I volunteered for various entertainment events at the Community Center, and also Women’s FEST email administration. However, I‘d like to get involved with the CAMP Rehoboth Outreach Program (CROP).
Of the many events held by CAMP Rehoboth, which is your favorite?
I love the Women’s FEST events. It enables me to meet new women in our community, and also those who have traveled to attend FEST. And, of course, I love the entertainment.
Name a childhood mentor or someone who influenced you while growing up.
My mentors would be my parents, and all of my Girl Scout leaders. My mom taught me to be strong. My dad taught me to be kind, caring, and full of wonder.
If you could go back to the age of 18, what do you know now that you wish you knew then?
I wish I knew that politics were important. I would have been more involved.
Favorite season here at the beach?
I don’t have one—I have two! Spring and Fall, when the town isn’t filled with all of the tourists. Plus, I love the colors of those seasons.
Do you have an LGBTQ hero?
I don’t have a specific LGBTQ hero. My heroes are all the brave men and women who fought for our rights, all the gay men (and women) who fought to get the AIDS studies and drugs out there, and those men and women who took care of our sick men in the early years of the disease. We took care of our own. I volunteered at Food and Friends in Washington, D.C., a fantastic organization that has expanded from feeding the HIV/AIDS community to now supporting anyone in the community who needs help.
The LGBTQ community has made significant progress in the fight for equality. Did you expect to see this in your lifetime? Why or why not?
Not really. In many ways I’m surprised with the progress, even though I did try to help push things along. I joined the Human Rights Campaign in 1992, and I think they keep pushing for our LGBTQ rights every day.
Given the current political climate, are you concerned about the possible loss of rights for the LGBTQ community?
Yes, but we have learned to fight and mobilize, and we will not let it happen. The Women’s March on Washington, D.C. was an awesome experience, and prompted all of us to do more.
Best year of your life and why?
2013. That’s the year I retired, and began living at the beach.
Labor Day because we take back the beaches.
What advice would you give to the younger LGBTQ community?
I would tell them to get involved in their communities, volunteer whenever and wherever they can, and most importantly, if they are so inclined, RUN FOR OFFICE to help make change.
Since you began coming to Rehoboth, name the biggest change(s) you’ve seen.
More diversity; families. In addition, I have seen more overall acceptance of the LGBTQ community.
Name three events that have shaped your life to where it is today.
Attending the University of North Carolina and being a Tar Heel; working to help patients get through cancer therapy; and fighting/surviving breast cancer in 2016/17.
Favorite US city and why?
I actually have two favorites. One in the US and one in Germany. My favorite US city is Seattle, Washington. I love the “artsyness” of the city. My favorite German city is Berlin because of the history, and the kindness of the people.
What are you most thankful for?
I am most thankful for this grand, caring community, and all of the wonderful friends I have met here. I have more good friends here than anywhere I have ever lived.
Dee, we are forever grateful to you and to all of our volunteers who take time to help when called upon. We hope you will continue to volunteer and be a part of CAMP Rehoboth’s growth going forward. ▼
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