People Who Make Southlake: The Honorable Mike Farhat
March 5, 2010
America has always been a land of opportunity, a free land, where if a person works hard and is committed to excellence, he can overcome great obstacles and take part in the American Dream. No one appreciates this more than longtime Southlake resident, Mike Farhat. As a child, Mike admired America’s society and way of living and dreamed of immigrating to the United States. He eventually did just that, leaving his beautiful homeland of Lebanon to come to the States.
Here he met and fell in love with a Louisiana-born girl named Gale. Mike and Gale married and were blessed with two daughters, Jennifer and Ashley. Farhat moved his wife and two daughters to Texas in the 70’s and immediately fell in love with Texas hospitality. The town of Southlake received one of its greatest friends and allies when Mike and Gale chose this town to put down roots twenty-four years ago. At that time, Southlake was home to just a handful of people. His two daughters loved horseback riding, and the family was delighted by the open country. “Moving to Southlake was the greatest decision I ever made for my family,” Mike told the Pulse.
Mike and his family immediately committed themselves to the growth and development of Southlake, a town that welcomed them warmly. Already a prominent businessman, Mike started Magic Mikes, the first two convenience stores in Southlake. They became landmarks in the small but growing community. Over time, Farhat became a recognized family name in Southlake, and his companies expanded to several states and nations.
Daughters Jennifer and Ashley graduated Carroll High School and were very involved in Southlake activities. Jennifer was a rodeo queen in the CISD three years in a row. Upon her high school graduation, Ashley attended TCU, graduated, and now lives in Southlake with her family. “I don’t remember living anywhere else but Southlake.” Ashley told the Pulse. “My dad always put family first, but he also taught us the importance of giving back to our community. He taught his family that if you live in a place, you should always do your best to give back, especially if you have businesses there.”
Many people experience the American Dream without enabling others to experience the same reality, but not Mike Farhat. Personal friend, Governor Rick Perry, told the Pulse, “Mike Farhat’s personal story is a shining example of the American Dream. He has overcome adversity to advance the causes of his local Southlake community.”
Mike has made it his mission to give back to the community that welcomed him so many years ago. As a citizen, he has raised money, donated land, and secured resources for the city of Southlake. As an immigrant, Mike is a visionary, passionately committed to humanitarian aid and charitable foundations. He is an avid supporter of the National Charity League, Summer Santa, GRACE, the Pro Player Foundation, and Kids Matter International, to name a few. More than just a supporter, Mike either helped start or sits as a board member on many of these philanthropic organizations.
“I met Mike twenty years ago, and as long as I’ve known him, he has been a champion of giving back to his community,” said former Southlake Mayor Andy Wambsganss. “He is truly committed to charity, actively involved with every charitable board of consequence in our community.”
Wambsganss continued, “In local government, all we ask of our politicians is that they do what is best in the interests of the people. Mike has done that as a municipal judge and as a citizen. He has always stepped up to take care of Southlake and its residents.”
In 1997, Farhat’s Magic Mike stores donated three cents from every gallon of gas sold to the Carroll Education Foundation. Proceeds from that particular six-month program became the financial backbone of the CEF which still generates much needed funding for the Carroll School District to this very day. Thanks to the foresight of Mike and others, children in CISD schools have access to special programs in the arts, sciences, and athletics.
Mike Farhat’s reputation and achievements are well-chronicled in Southlake, but if you ask him, he will duck his head and say, “I am a devoted family man who loves my city very much, and I’m extremely grateful for what I have. I’m thankful for the opportunity this country provides and the ability to give back to the community I love.”
Another thing that endears many in our community to Mike is the grace he has shown through personal tragedies and setbacks. Mike and his family have overcome much personal tragedy on the journey to where they are today. Almost eleven years ago, their daughter, Jennifer, at the time a new mother, was accidentally killed while working in the family’s water sports business in Aruba. Mike and Gale soon thereafter adopted their grandson, Tyler, and now cherish the opportunity to raise him as their own son. Tyler brings joy out of sorrow for Mike and Gale. “Tyler keeps me young.” Farhat said with a big smile on his face. “I did not have the opportunity to enjoy my childhood for long when I was a boy, but my son brings out the boy in me.”
Mike has endured personal adversity, business setbacks and political defeats, but in the end, he and Gale have shown uncommon endurance in the American Dream. Farhat said, “Business and political setbacks have always been a motivation for me to work harder. I know if it rains on my parade, the sun will eventually come out again.”
As he reflected on his story, Mike began to share his love for America, “I have the opportunity to travel all over the world, but I can say without doubt, that each time I travel abroad, the most exciting moment of my life is when the plane touches back down on American soil.”
The former judge continued, “I hope the younger generation appreciates this country for what it is. Its freedoms, democracy, and economic system are designed to make us excel if we are committed to education and hard work.” Mike has indeed worked hard and been very successful but has maintained a humble attitude. He told the Pulse, “Success and power are like a double-edged sword. If you do not have humility, they will destroy you.”
Southlake is a better place because people like Mike and his wife are willing to be involved in our community at every level. Governor Perry said it this way about Mike, “His selfless generosity has helped establish organizations and programs to help the most needy in our state.”