Romance started in new school
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 10:00 PM
This week's subject would have graduated with a dozen others from Middletown (Henry County) High School, likely as Valedictorian with his straight A's. However, Larry Frye lost his mother, his father remarried, and moved them to Richmond, Indiana with Larry beginning 9th grade in a class of 490. Making straight F's at the larger school, a church member helped Larry straighten himself out. Larry also met a sweet girl, Barbara Good, who sat behind him in class (F-G). She lived on the north side while he lived on the far east side. He walked often to see her. They dated through high school. Upon graduation, Larry asked his youth minister, "How do you go to college?" They sat down together and filled out papers. Larry soon found himself at Bethany College.
Barbara was at Earlham briefly, then joined Larry. They graduated in 1963, she in Education, he in the Honors program. Thankfully, Larry received the Woodrow Wilson Scholarship for graduate school. On an icy trip to Yale to look over the graduate program at the college, their Volkswagen Beatle flew through the interstate, landing upside down. All were okay (he, Barbara and two friends) but when they got out of the car and were checking damage, a lady panicked, lost control of her vehicle and smashed into Larry. While Larry was in surgery, the nurse told the Dr. that Larry's legs weren't even, one was longer. The Dr. thought she was nuts. Thus, the bet was on - a bottle of scotch. When measured, there were indeed some adjustments necessary so the nurse won the Scotch wager. Also while laid up, literally, Larry became the Poster Child for Bethany when he ended-up on the front cover of the Bethany College magazine as a professor grilled him on his comp questions.
After graduation in May, the love birds were wed, Larry with a cane, then it was off to honeymoon in Puerto Rico. Larry's full of funny stories and one that made me laugh and laugh took place there. The fancy restaurant connected to their hotel had a maître de. Larry, somewhat sloppy, was chastised by the man for all the crumbs the waiter had to brush away. Well, Larry made it his challenge to eat without making a mess. After three days, the waiter gave Larry a nod and "Well done!" Mission accomplished!
After receiving his Master's in Library Science from Rutgers, Larry spent the next 11 years as the Library Director at his alma mater where our own Tim Timmons worked for him. When Larry interviewed for the Wabash College job, the 14 department chairs convened for his questioning. First: "What would you do with an extra million dollars?" Before Larry got the chance to voice an answer, one of the men piped-up, "What a dumb question, he'll never see that situation!" Everyone laughed, and Larry decided then and there he loved the place. That was in 1980 and he was fantastic at his job. He retired 26 years later. Although Larry is proud that the new library was built in his years (as well as the addition), he said his major, continual accomplishment was doing a good job by either having or getting (even clear from England) whatever the faculty and students needed. I spent a lot of time in the Wabash library (field trips with my TR kids; studying; genealogying) and the one thing I loved about it was the friendliness and helpfulness. Through those years, Larry had 468 students work for him. Loved the camaraderie between Larry and the students. This was proven in a story about Larry giving a tour of the new facilities. Larry's grating voice must have bothered one of the students studying in a cubicle because a comment rang out, "Shut up Larry." Answer: "I obey!" He's a hoot!
Larry commented that there is so much community service to do here. He proves one of the best at the task. On the Steering Committee since 1984, Larry told me (1981-2013) that $309,549.86 was raised by the Montgomery County Crop Walk for World Hunger and $70,812 for the Local Fish Pantry. On the MUFFY scene, Larry organized the Wabash boys' door-to-door campaign. Finally, Larry asked to be on the board after all those years and gladly spent two terms. Larry told me, "I can't drive a nail but I can raise money," which he has done for about 10 years for Habitat for Humanity. He and Barbara have been involved from the get-go with the BackPack Nourish Program at the First Christian Church. In its third year, it is hoped that 500 hungry children in our area will receive each week a back pack with Food Finders kid-friendly nutritious weekend food. I was intrigued as Larry told me about being a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). I loved hearing the stories about his kids. One didn't quite understand what Larry was, but finally said, "Oh, you're our mouthpiece for the judge!" Bingo. Larry said the job is trying but worthwhile! Meals on Wheels is also one of his passions and Barbara makes shawls for cancer patients.
Three great kids blessed the Frye family. Mark and his wife, Kathy live in Lawrenceburg where he does International work using his Hanover chemistry major. Eric and Laura live here in town and have Connor, a senior at Valparaiso and Nicholas a junior at Wabash. Eric is a Fireman/Paramedic for our community. Heather and her husband, Trent Mathias live in Seattle, Washington where he works at Boeing and she does PR for ballet/music. They have the third Frye grandchild, Olive.
Last year, the kids and grands were all here for a wonderful 50th anniversary. Many friends came by to say hi and congrats. Larry and Barbara, I wish you a bunch more years together and thanks for being my feature this week!
Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, a monthly magazine published by Sagamore New Media, publisher of The Paper of Montgomery County. Her column, "Around the County" is published weekly.