Students remember Donald Fry, longtime University of Houston-Victoria associate professor of educational administration, as someone who would take extra time to help them. Colleagues recall a man who was giving and open and who played an important role in the lives of hundreds of educators who passed through his life.
Fry died Nov. 22 at age 64 of heart and respiratory complications. A memorial service will begin at 3 p.m. Friday in the Multi-Purpose Room of the UHV University Center, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.
“Everyone, students and colleagues, who worked with Don were affected by his spirit and his love of education,” said Robin Cadle, director of stewardship and planned giving in the UHV Office of University Advancement and Fry’s former student. “We used to laugh about one of Don’s children who didn’t want any of his classmates to know he was the principal’s son when Don worked as a school administrator. But Don was a caring person, and he embodied the idea of servant leadership.”
The Fry family is establishing the Don Fry Endowed Scholarship for students studying educational leadership, a fitting tribute to a man who both led school districts and taught the next generation of leaders when he came to UHV in 1997. Those wishing to donate to the endowed scholarship fund may contact Cadle at 361-570-4120.
After serving in the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army in Vietnam, Fry earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees with honors from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches. After several years as a math teacher and principal, he completed his doctorate in leadership and higher educational administration at Texas A&M at Commerce. He served as superintendent of several school districts in East Texas and Galveston before joining UHV in the School of Education & Human Development.
UHV certification analyst Deborah Westbrook worked with Fry for more than a decade and said students thought highly of him.
“They valued the time they had with him, and many thought of him as a friend and mentor instead of just as an instructor,” Westbrook said. “He firmly believed in servant leadership. He felt like a leader should work alongside his people, not above them.”
Diane Prince, interim dean of the UHV School of Education & Human Development, said Fry nurtured the university education faculty’s relationships with area school districts.
“Dr. Fry loved teaching and working with our public school administrators,” Prince said. “He was a friendly, warm and caring faculty member and will be missed.”
Fry is remembered for his wit and wisdom and was a theorist, mathematician and a naturalist since his time as an Eagle Scout.
Fry is survived by his mother Shirley Fry; three children, Terrence Fry of Victoria, Sam Fry of Ganado, and Samantha Fry of Victoria; and one grandson, a sister and two brothers.