The Story of Bob & Ramona

Bob and Ramona Farrell

By Leslie Strader

Bob Farrell has had two great passions in his life: ice cream and kids. From the first was born Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor Restaurants in 1963, a well-known chain with 130 locations across 26 states. This business helped him find success with the second: countless teenagers have been reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the ministry of Young Life and the faithful support of people like Bob and his wife, Ramona, and others throughout the world.

Bob and Ramona first heard about Young Life in 1972 when their third daughter, Colleen, began attending a new high school just outside Portland, Ore., where they had recently moved.

She would come home feeling lonely because she didn’t know anyone. Then she became involved with Young Life and Bob and Ramona helped out with their activities when needed. Then they were invited to be adult guests at Malibu, a Young Life camp in British Columbia, Canada.

Bob recalls his first Young Life experience while at the camp with fresh emotion, as if it were yesterday: “I was struck,” he said. “I’d never seen kids have so much fun and yet learning about Jesus Christ. I couldn’t help thinking, if only my high school could have had Young Life. My father died when I was 5. I was in an orphanage for five years.  When my mother married again I went to a new high school and got in with the wrong crowd and had no proper direction.”

The Farrells' relationship with Young Life grew from Malibu. Bob served in direct ministry with kids and, later, on committees and at the National Board level, raising money for camp development and scholarships.

When it was time to look at planning their estate, Steve Atkinson, a development director for Young Life, played an invaluable role in guiding the Farrells through the process of setting up a trust through the Young Life Foundation. Because of this trust, Bob and Ramona will continue to support the mission for years to come.

“The trust just made a whole lot of sense to me,” Bob said. “I’m able to have a good retirement plan and yet get my money going where I want it and be sure kids go to camp.”

Ramona added, “We are so pleased that we can contribute to kids being able to hear about Jesus Christ and His love for them through Young Life and also to know that our retirement needs will be taken care of.”

But for now, the couple spends their time sharing the mission and message of Young Life and encouraging others to make an eternal impact that will last for generations.

“I always suggest to anybody involved in Young Life to give to the ministry,” Bob said. “I don’t care how much money you have, you should look for a way to give so the work will continue after you’re gone.

“Young Life was the crowning of what I really needed. I don’t know of any other organization that reaches kids better than Young Life. I believe in Young Life; kids are a part of Young Life, and that’s where my heart is — with kids.”