Edward Fry (Inducted 1993)

Laguna Beach, CA, USA
Rutgers University


 Tribute to

Edward B. Fry
Reading Hall of Fame Breakfast
May 10, 2011
By Patty Anders
I am honored this morning to pay tribute to one of our dearest colleagues and friends: Professor Ed Fry. First, let me acknowledge his wife, Cathy—who is with us this morning.
Cathy, we all appreciate what you have been through the last several months and our hearts go out to you. We, the members of the Reading Hall of Fame, want to reach out to you this morning, wrap our arms around you, and let you know that we love both you and Ed. The two of you brought humor, wisdom, grace and dignity to all that you touched—including the Reading Hall of Fame.
Professor Ed Fry passed away on September 2, 2010, ending his life that began April 4, 1925 in Los Angeles. His memorial service was held at the United Methodist Church, in Laguna Beach, where he and Cathy were members. I attended the service and much about Ed and his life came clear to me that day.
It was obvious that people were sad that Ed had passed on, but celebrating the life of this amazing man was easy to do. Everyone—relatives, colleagues, family, and friends—each had something wonderful they wanted to say about Ed. The stories that were told abundantly reflected the Love, humor, wisdom, traditions, adventure, and trust that marked Ed’s life. The joy of a life lived well literally rang from the rafters.

Also, it was evident that his church family shared, as did all of us,  Ed’s commitment to excellence. The service I attended in Ed’s memory was filled with music and words that exemplified the best that can be said about a life. Those folks in LaGuna Beach work hard, are committed to making the world a better place for all, and cared for each other in all the ways that Ed exemplified in his life. It is clear that Ed’s presence made a difference in that community, just as he made a difference in ours.

His commitment to excellence and his love of life flowed into his work for the National Reading Conference. Ed was President 1972-1974. He had a profound influence on the organization, continually pushing for a more diverse membership and for improved conference program quality.

I don’t know how others felt, but for me, having Ed in my audience at NRC was a mixed blessing: On the one hand, I knew I was going to get solid feedback on my work and on the other hand, I knew I was going to get solid feedback on my work. Sloppy or less than cogent thought seldom escaped this brilliant man. He understood the power of critique and always assumed the best of his colleagues, which meant, of course, that he was obligated to give solid feedback! Most of us here, know that he published over 100 articles and wrote many books, many of which we have passed on to our students in our classes.  His scholarship will live on through these publications.

He was a mentor to several doctoral students, including Trika Smith Burke, as well as to the untold numbers of junior and senior scholars he influenced. He first taught at Loyola College but for most of his career, served as department head and professor at Rutgers University.

In addition to his exemplary commitment to the field of reading research and education, Ed and Cathy supported literacy development in Zimwabee and Uganda. He taught at Makere University in Uganda and founded the University Press in Zimwabee. Colleagues from Africa also attended his memorial service.

In addition to Ed’s service around the world and to the field of reading, Ed fathered two children, daughter Shanti and son Christopher and was step father to two children, Kim and Kirk. His 7 grand children were at the memorial service and their love for him was abundant.

I appreciate this opportunity today to pay tribute to Professor Edward B. Fry. I am sure if he can, he will be letting me know how well I did today.