July 9, 1940–March 10, 2015
More than 2,000 mourners paid their respects to late UO Emeritus President Dave Frohnmayer at a celebration of his life on March 21. (All photos: Michael McDermott)
By Public Affairs Communications with Damian Foley
The flags outside Matthew Knight Arena flew at half-staff on Saturday, March 21, as the University of Oregon bade farewell to late Emeritus President Dave Frohnmayer.
More than 2,000 mourners paid their respects during the service, which was presided over by family friend Bill Gary. Frohnmayer’s siblings and children, as well as United States Senator Ron Wyden, JD ’74 and UO Board of Trustees Chair Chuck Lillis, PhD ’92 were among those who spoke during the two-hour-long celebration of life.
“His 74 years among us was not enough,” Gary said. “It seems unfair. But Dave would be the last person to complain.”
President Frohnmayer was a lifelong lover of the arts and a supporter of the UO School of Music and Dance, whose building is named after his mother MarAbel. Fittingly, music played a central role in the memorial, with the Frohnmayer Family Choir and the Eugene Symphony among the performers.
President Frohnmayer passed away March 10 after a five-year battle with prostate cancer. Following the announcement of his death, tributes flowed in from around the country.
“Dave was a friend, a former colleague and a valued advisor,” said UO Interim President Scott Coltrane. “I am honored to have witnessed how his profound collaboration and insightful vision built the University of Oregon into the top research university it is today.”
"I am heartbroken at the loss of my wonderful and brilliant friend Dave Frohnmayer,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “His deep love of Oregon is reflected in a lifetime of leadership and public service."
Frohnmayer was appointed University of Oregon president in 1994 and served until 2009—the third-longest tenure of any UO president. During that time, enrollment increased from 16,700 to a record 21,000; the university completed two major fundraising campaigns that raised more than $1.1 billion; $500 million in construction was completed or started, including Lillis Hall, four student housing projects, the Many Nations Longhouse, seven science facilities and expansions of the College of Education, Schnitzer Museum of Art, Miller Theater Complex and the School of Music; and 19 new degree programs, including biochemistry and ethnic studies, were added.
"It is a remarkable record, achieved while loving his wife and family above all else,” said Nike co-founder Phil Knight, BBA ’59. “The state has lost an historical figure, and I personally shall miss him deeply. Penny and I extend our condolences to Lynn and rest of the family."
An accomplished scholar, Frohnmayer was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a national prize-winning author on the United States Constitution. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and earned his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Following his retirement, he continued as a member of the law faculty and the Clark Honors College, teaching a highly popular freshman seminar, Theories of Leadership.
Prior to his appointment as president, Frohnmayer served as Oregon’s attorney general. In this role, he argued and won six of seven cases before the United States Supreme Court, the best record of any contemporary state attorney general. He also served as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives, as a law professor and legal counsel to the president of the University of Oregon, and as dean of the School of Law.
Frohnmayer is survived by his wife, Lynn; sons Mark and Jonathan; daughter Amy; brother John; and sister Mira. Two daughters, Kirsten and Katie, died earlier of complications related to Fanconi anemia; while brother Phil died of cancer in 2013.
Dave and Lynn Frohnmayer founded the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, Inc., and he was a founding director of the National Bone Marrow Donor Program.
Whether through improved access to higher education through scholarships, support for the academic mission of the university, public service to the state, or hope for families affected by severe medical challenges, Dave Frohnmayer created a legacy that in many ways continues to touch the lives of every Oregonian.
"My parents instilled in me and my siblings not only a love of literature, music and law, but also a strong public service ethic," Frohnmayer wrote during Campaign Oregon. "I grew up with a real sense that an individual can make a difference, and that if you can, you should."
The family asks that memorial contributions go to the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund at 1801 Willamette St., Suite 200, Eugene OR 97401.