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Berkeley Springs man, 76, was helping to clean pool when he drowned

May 27, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The Berkeley Springs man who drowned in a swimming pool Wednesday afternoon was helping to clean it, West Virginia State Police said Thursday.

Dwan "Punch" Waitman Farris, 76, fell into a friend's pool at 78 Fairfax Lane in Berkeley Springs about 5:30 p.m., Berkeley Springs Detachment Commander Sgt. Scott E. Davis said Thursday.

Davis said Farris fell into the pool about 5:30 p.m. while he was cleaning it. Davis said the pool was filled with water and was 7 1/2 feet deep at one end.

The cause of death was ruled accidental drowning by Morgan County Medical Examiner Christy Duckwall, according to a news release.

Family spokesperson William Swope, pastor of Wesleyan Chapel on Harrison Avenue, said Farris was family-oriented and very devoted to his church.

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He was a Berkeley Springs native and the father of six. He had eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, Swope said.

"He was a man that helped anybody that needed it," Swope said.

Swope said Farris retired after 34 years as a railroad worker with CSX/Western Maryland Railroad.

"He was modest and very humble, and liked to work behind the scenes. You could count on him. He was very reliable," Swope said.

"Punch" was a nickname given to Farris as a child by his sisters, said his wife, Ernesteen Shade Farris.

"I don't know why," she said, but the nickname was used by his co-workers at the railroad.

"I will miss him, and the congregation will miss him," Swope said.

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