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Woman of Wilson: E. Marie Farely

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SUBMITTED / The Wilson

Wilson County criminal defense lawyer E. Marie Farley has quite the story to tell - beginning with her birth in Kissimmee, Florida.

Farley's dad, of Wilson County, had been called up in the Marine Corps Reserves during the Korean War when Farley made her appearance into the world. Her mother was visiting parents in Florida when she gave birth.

"My grandmother was the supervising nurse on duty, and since my mother had been put to sleep for delivery, as was common in those days, Grandma named me after her," she said remaining mum about the "E" name that precedes Marie. "Having a second child exempted my father from Korea, so he literally was able to get off the ship and return home. That may be the underlying reason why my parents added Marie as my middle name, along with the sad truth that no one liked my grandmother's first name."

The family returned to Wilson County, where Farley was raised. She was baptized in Lebanon's Immanuel Baptist Church and attended Highland Heights, Tuckers Crossroads Elementary, Lebanon Junior High and Lebanon High School. She graduated from LHS in the top ten academically in her class.

She completed her bachelor of arts, cum laude, at Middle Tennessee State University and did her post graduate work there and at the University of Tennessee. Farley earned her law degree at the Nashville School of Law, formerly known as the Y.M.C.A Night Law School.

She is currently a criminal defense lawyer working for 15th Judicial District Public Defender Comer Donnell. She formerly had a private practice.

"In that position I provide criminal defense for those who are indigent. I also have the daily privilege of protecting everyone's Constitutional rights as I protect those of my clientele," Farley said.

"I enjoy law and its history. I enjoy that each case is a new and different story which has to be decided within our statures and case law. I love the challenge and thrill of the courtroom and the wealth of knowledge and experience of those who gather to work there," she added.

However, most of all - in both her professional and personal life - Farley loves helping others.

"I remember as a child I included in my morning and evening prayers a request that I may be able to help those who were less fortunate than I," she said.

In high school she would visit Margianna Nursing Home each week to sing and play piano for residents. She also helped organize the Children's Advocacy Center in the 15th Judicial District with the efforts of Bobby Hibbett, Bill Macke, Nancy Willis and Tommy Thompson.

"These children needed a safe and friendly place to tell their story and receive services for themselves and the non-offending adults in their lives, to help them recover from the trauma of abuse," she explained. "It is an honor and a pleasure to still be serving on the CAC Board of Directors and to have served as its president."

Farley is also a mother and grandmother. She called her children and grandchildren her "greatest gifts."

"During my children's early lives I was room mother, PTO officer, Sunday School teacher, costume-maker, cookie-baker, taxi driver, cheerleader, tear-drier and all around CEO of the household," she said. "The day my first child was born I looked into her eyes and promised her that I would never forget what it is like to be a child and thereby understand what she experienced each day. That promise was renewed with the births of each of my three children. It is one of the reasons that most of my volunteer work has focused on children and families."

Farley said it was impossible to name just one woman she admires, because there have been so many significant ladies in her life.

"(Everyone) is an example to someone. You may be a positive inspiration or a negative discouragement. It is your choice. Do the best with your personal talents, abilities and opportunities."

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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