When Douglas Faunce Farrington purchased Newton's Norumbega Park and Totem Pole Ballroom in 1956, he knew he had to make some changes. The era of swing that made the park famous in the '40s and '50s was ending and acts like Peter, Paul & Mary were becoming more popular.
"My father used to bring me over for some of the concerts in the evening and I remember we used to sit on the stage right to the left and we'd actually be right on stage with the orchestra," said his son, Roger D. of Jamaica Plain.
Mr. Farrington, who was the last owner of the park that stood along the Charles River, died Tuesday at Littleton Hospital of thyroid cancer. A resident of Sugar Hill, N.H., he was 78.
Having graduated from Babson College with a business degree in 1950, Mr. Farrington opened a real estate investment company, D.F. Farrington Co. Inc., and purchased two buildings on State Street. A few years later, he decided to make a bid for the popular park, and gradually convinced owner Roy Gill to sell it.
"It was very popular with the children, and schools used to sort of -- in the spring, April and May -- use the amusement park for outings for schoolchildren, and it was very popular with the children," said Mr. Farrington's wife, Veronica.
"It was a tame amusement park compared with what you get today."
However, his wife said that as times changed, the business began to lose its charm and money. He sold it to a condominium developer in the early 1960s.
After the park closed, Mr. Farrington continued to dabble in real estate. A golf enthusiast, he purchased the Glen Ellen Country Club, a golf course in Millis, which he owned and operated until 1974.
He continued to invest in real estate, but none of his ventures was as successful as the park. When he retired, he and his wife moved from Chestnut Hill to Sugar Hill, where they had been spending their summers for about a decade. Mr. Farrington spent his time playing golf and, a veteran himself, reading books about World War II.
Mr. Farrington was born June 16, 1925, in Newton. He attended the Dexter School in Brookline, the Fay School in Southborough, and the Middlesex School in Concord. When he was 18, Mr. Farrington enlisted in the Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army. He served on the destroyer USS Haraden in the Pacific, participating in the invasions of the Marshall and Marianas islands and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. He narrowly escaped injury when his ship was damaged by a Kamikaze. He received five battle stars for his service.
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Farrington leaves another son, Edward P. of Sugar Hill, N.H.; two daughters, Jennifer F. Jhaveri of Newhall, Calif., and Lee F. of Charlestown; and four grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in June in Sugar Hill. Burial will be private.