Obituary: Janet MacPherson Farbus


Janet MacPherson Farbus

After 85 years of surf and sun, travel and ski, success and family -filled years, Janet has left her beloved earth and moved on to surfing in heaven. Janet was born and raised in the San Francisco you will see in movies like The Maltese Falcon and Pal Joey. She was a classic 20th century Californio. Like the Hawaiian surfing princess Ka’iulani, Janet’s mother came from the prominent Paredes family in Mazatlan, Mexico. Her father Kenneth was originally from Canada but started MacPherson leather company in Montana where he stitched and sewed that business into one of largest saddle makers on the west coast. Janet’s father died when she was 12 and she was raised by her mother. Janet was a natural athlete and swam in high school at Convent of the Sacred Heart. Ocean Beach was close by, and she started surfing in the mid 1950’s, a very fun time to be a surfer in California when waves were plentiful, crowds were minimal, and surfboards were evolving from light balsawood to lighter plastics. After graduation from Convent in 1955 her graduation gift was a summer trip to the Hawaiian Islands where she rented an apartment in Waikiki with her sister and her friends for three months.

Janet studied education at Santa Barbara City College and graduated from San Francisco State with a teaching degree. She moved to Southern California and became part of an influential crew of surfers that included Philip “Flippy” Hoffman, Renny Yater and Tom Morey, Morey being the infamous inventor of the Boogie Board and Yater a well-known surfboard shaper.

The Endless Summer was a big sensation that swept the nation and became the most successful documentary of any kind made up to that point. One of surfers in the New Zealand section of Endless Summer was a local rogue named Tim Murdoch. Janet and Tim met in California and married and moved to New Zealand. Janet became the New Zealand women’s surfing champion. Her son Sean MacPherson was born in 1964 and she moved back to Southern California shortly after.

Janet was what you might call a “surfisticate” educated, sophisticated, prosperous, accomplished,
hard-working, well-read, well-traveled, but a surfer at her core. Janet has been surfing non-stop from 1955 until she was 80 at some of the world’s best surf spots.

As a surfer, Janet was a daughter of multiple places- a Bedouin surfer who moved with the seasons.In 1970 Janet took a real estate course and by her own admission “went by the seat of my pants.”

It was a way to keep up her lifestyle. She bought and managed her own properties in Malibu. While on a summer trip in 1981 with her son Sean, Janet met an Australian, the equally adventurous Stephen Farbus who became her husband for 32 wonderful years. They found and shared a love for the surf, the sun, and the stars. They had a home in Pavones, Costa Rica, another in San Juanico, Baja, Mexico, and several rental properties in Malibu. Together over the last few decades they collected museum quality artifacts of surf and adventure travel, an eye-opening collection of arrowheads, ancient pottery, and shark’s teeth. Janet is currently the inspiration and model for her daughter in law’s company Lingua Franca. She is on every box, bag, and billboard. In 2017 she was featured in a two-page spread in Vogue magazine.

The family would like to give special thanks to Janet’s caregiver team for their hard work and compassion over the course of this journey.

Janet is preceded by her parents Maria Dolores and James Kenneth MacPherson and her grandniece Aliya Cullinane. She is survived by husband Stephen Farbus, her son and daughter-in law Sean and Rachelle Macpherson. Grandsons Maxwell and Dashiell. Her sister Marie MacPherson, her nephew Mark Wiegner, niece and husband Lisa and Kevin Cullinane and grandnieces Kristina and Rachel Cullinane.