Community mourns loss of west Pasco mom, baby

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldJune 14, 2013 

PASCO -- Condolences are pouring in to pay tribute to a west Pasco woman and her newborn baby.

Yolonda "Loni" Elmo-Farwell, 30, died June 8 at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

She was 7 1/2 months pregnant when she died. Doctors were able to deliver her daughter, Avery Aaliyah Farwell, but she died Monday.

Mother and daughter died natural deaths, Benton County Coroner John Hansens said. Autopsy results still are pending.

While Elmo-Farwell's death has galvanized people who didn't even know her, her husband, Jason Farwell, said many in the community already knew her as giving and kind.

"I want everybody to know what kind of a person she was," Farwell said. "She treated her friends just like family."

A celebration of life service in memory of Elmo-Farwell and her daughter will be held at 1 p.m. June 22 at the Shilo Inn in Richland, 50 Comstock St.

Elmo-Farwell was born in Yakima and lived in the Tri-Cities for 29 years. Her brother, Adrian Elmo, said they enjoyed childhood camping trips.

"We'd always be in the woods, all summer long," he said.

She graduated from Kennewick High School, where she lettered in volleyball and track, and Washington State University in Pullman, where she was an honor student, earning her degree in history. She received a master's degree in education from Heritage College in Toppenish.

Elmo-Farwell had a passion for teaching, substituting at Highland Middle School in Kennewick. She was an operations support specialist at Washington River Protection Solutions at Hanford, serving as the family's primary breadwinner, but still took time to mentor Sacajawea Elementary students as part of the Junior Achievement program.

"Her goal and her drive was to be a teacher," Elmo said. "She took any opportunity she got to be around education."

Jason Farwell, a recording artist who was a single father of two children, married Elmo-Farwell in November 2010. His son Ta'lon, 17, and daughter Janay, 9, lost the woman they think of as their mom.

"She just stepped in and filled a hole in my life, Farwell said. "She just came in and was the best mom ever."

Having known Elmo-Farwell will make a difference as he struggles to readjust to being a single dad again, he said.

"It's not going to be as hard because she just showed me how to be a better dad," he said.

The family still faces challenges. Farwell said the best way to help is to donate to the Yolonda Farwell Family Account at any HAPO Community Credit Union location.

Others are helping by making necklaces in Yolonda and Avery's memory and sending well-wishes on Facebook.

"It's amazing, everybody's response. Everybody trying to help," Farwell said. "I've never experienced anything like it before. In this time of tragedy for my family, it's really helped out a lot."

Elmo said his sister was beautiful inside and out.

"She was extremely caring and just a joy," he said. "She had a smile on her face whenever you saw her."

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