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Skydiving Roy grandpa checks another item off his 'bucket list'

Published: Saturday, May 31 2014 10:00 p.m. MDT

Terri Hennessy, a granddaughter, 90-year-old Richard Farr and Laurie Scherbel, also granddaughter, talk before going skydiving Saturday, May 31, 2014 with Dive Ogden.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

OGDEN — How does a 90-year-old adrenaline junkie celebrate this ninth decade of life?

Skydiving, of course.

Richard Farr, of Roy, commemorated his 90th birthday in March, and one of the things he said he wanted to do was to skydive. So he spent a picturesque spring Saturday afternoon fulfilling that lifelong dream with two of this granddaughters as they each took the plunge from 12,000 feet — high above the Ogden Skydiving Center.

While many nonagenarians spend much of their time choosing more leisurely pursuits, Farr said that has never been his modus operandi.

“I’ve done everything else … scuba dived, had a motor home (and) snowmobiled,” he said. “I water ski, jet ski and ride a (mountain) bike everyday for 30 minutes.”

So why skydiving now at age 90? “Cause it was on my bucket list,” he said with a hearty laugh.

Still very active, Farr owns two Wave Runners personal watercraft that he rides with his adult children and grandchildren, along with several great-grandkids every summer. Grandson Erick Hennessy described him as “quite an inspiration to everyone around him.”

Farr served in the infantry in the Army during World War II and was married to his wife for 60 years before she died a few years ago.

Prior to going up in the plane for his maiden jump, he said he expected the experience to be “awesome.” Asked if he was nervous about taking that step out of the aircraft, Farr quipped: “Naw, you only fall once!”

Joining him were two of his adult grandchildren, Laurie Scherbel and Teri Hennessy, both 38. Both first-time jumpers themselves, they said they wanted to share the experience with the man who had been such an inspiration in the lives of their family.

“He was there for every great moment that we had as kids growing up,” Scherbel explained. “I want to be here for this moment (for him).”

“I figured if he does it, then I’ve got to do it, too,” Hennessy said.

So with that, the trio, along with a family friend, got a short lesson on protocol and what to expect with their tandem skydive guide. About an hour later, they boarded the plane that would take them toward the heavens so they could realize their collaborative dream.

After free falling for about a minute and drifting downward under the parachute for a little while longer, Farr landed softly on terra firma followed by the rest of the group.

“It was great!” he said. ”Awesome! I’d do it again!”

Though she was nervous during the time leading up to the jump, Scherbel said her anxiety gave way to euphoria during the actual jump.

“It was a little scary, but once he pulls the chute it’s beautiful up there,” she said. “It was a huge adrenaline rush.”

Similarly, Hennessy said she was also a bit overwhelmed at first as the dive began, but soon settled in and was able to enjoy the experience.

“The free fall was awesome,” she said. More important, she was grateful to have been able to share the experience with her grandfather.

“Just to be able say they that we did it with him is awesome,” she said. “He always supported us in everything, so it’s a good memory to have for years to come.”

For Farr, being able to share the event with his family was the culmination of a decades-long ambition.

“It was once in a lifetime,” he said. “But when I reach 100, we’re going to go again.”

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com, Twitter: JasenLee1

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