David Braden Frohnmayer
David Braden Frohnmayer passed away in his sleep March 10, 2015 at age 74, after living for over five years with prostate cancer. His accomplishments in public service were many, and they sparkled with intellect, passion, and common sense.
Born in Medford, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, traveled to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and graduated from the University of California Berkeley School of Law. He became a UO Professor of Law, a member of the Oregon House of Representatives, Attorney General of Oregon, Dean of the UO School of Law, and, for fifteen years, President of the University of Oregon.
To the UO presidency he brought the national stature of a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities, and a leader among Attorneys General, arguing seven cases in front of the United States Supreme Court, winning six. During his tenure as president, he helped the UO add 19 new degree programs, double federal research grants, grow student enrollment, build or renovate 14 campus buildings, and raise $1.1 billion. After his retirement in 2009, he joined the law firm of Harrang Long Gary Rudnick P.C., but he continued to teach courses in the School of Law and the Robert Clark Honors College. He also taught a popular freshman seminar on Theories of Leadership, teaching his final class five days before his death.
This litany of accomplishments, as impressive as it is, does not do justice to the man. To know Dave is to know that he fed the birds every morning; that he planted and tended a garden each year; that he played the trumpet and sang with gusto, not just with Frohns Tones, but with the extended family, including his mother, MarAbel, and siblings Mira, John, and Phil (father Otto couldn't carry a tune in a bucket). He needed no invitation or excuse to sing at virtually every gathering.
Most of all, though, one can gauge the character of a man by what he loved, and for Dave, that was his family. He told Lynn, sitting on the edge of his bed perhaps an hour before he died, that he loved her, that she was his best friend, that they lived a wonderful life together and had loving and accomplished children in Mark, Jonathan, and Amy. His devotion to them is forever.
When he almost died in 1999, having collapsed with ventricular fibrillation in Bethesda, Maryland, before a room full of doctors, he rebounded to live fifteen-and-a-half more years. He savored this time of public service, family milestones, and tireless pursuit of a cure for Fanconi anemia, the condition that had taken the lives of his daughters Kirsten and Katie, and that now threatens his daughter Amy. A co-founder with his wife Lynn, of the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, he was a founding director of the National Marrow Donor Program and the moving force for raising over $20 million for scientific research.
For all of his multiple talents, the private side of this very public man was humble, devoted, and driven to accomplish just one more task (not including cleaning up his office). He was thankful for his life, his loves, and his gifts.
In addition to his wife, Lynn, David Frohnmayer is survived by his children, Mark, Jonathan, and Amy; and his siblings, Mira and John. Preceding him in death were his parents, Otto and MarAbel; a brother, Phillip; and his daughters, Kirsten and Katie.
A celebration of his life will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2015 at the Matthew Knight Arena on the University of Oregon campus. A reception will follow at the University of Oregon Knight Law School. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his honor can be made to the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, 1801 Willamette, Suite 200, Eugene, OR 97401.