Roderick J. Frye (Rodd)
Rodd passed away on November 10, 2020, with his loving wife, Vicki, at his side. In addition to his wife, he leaves behind six cherished children, Steve (Beth Blacker), Kristin (Bill) Kavanagh, Lisa (Tony) Dawson, Tim, Erik (Sheila), and Missy (Larry) Case; brother Dave (Kay); eleven grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; brothers-in-law Gary Field and Tony (Dawn Russell) Field; many nieces and nephews, and great-nieces and nephews. Rodd will be remembered for his joy of life; his deep love of family; his boundless generosity; his dedication as a mentor and passionate educator over his long career with St. Paul Public Schools; his enduring love for Glacier National Park, where he served as a seasonal ranger; his contributions to country as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps (Carlson’s Raiders); and for his love of his six devoted canine companions.
Rodd was born in St. Paul on January 22, 1926 to David H. and Beatrice E. (Johnson) Frye. He was one of five children, including twin sister Marilyn (Dolly), and brothers Cortlandt, Harvey (Nik) Sr., and David. He attended Benson High School in Omaha, Nebraska and Wilson High School in St. Paul before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps (Carlson’s Raiders) at the age of 17. He served two years in the South Pacific and was awarded the Purple Heart. Following his discharge, he attended Augsburg and St. Olaf Colleges. He earned a degree in education from St. Olaf and indulged his love of music by singing in the college’s Viking Male Chorus and playing in a jazz band. He met his second wife, Vicki, in 1978 and in 1986, they were married in Boe Memorial Chapel on the St. Olaf campus.
During his college years, Rodd discovered Glacier National Park. He met his first wife, Lois Ann, while working at the Park’s Lake McDonald Lodge and together they had six children. Rodd had an adventurous spirit and he returned to Glacier to work as a seasonal ranger for twelve summers. He packed up his young family at the end of the school year and drove to Montana, trailer in tow, to spend three months stationed at his beloved Lake McDonald. A dedicated father, he also instilled his passion for Glacier and the outdoors in his children. Glacier was a special place that touched his soul, a love that endured for the rest of his life.
Rodd began his teaching career at the Minnesota School for the Deaf in Faribault, MN (now the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf), then taught in Rolla, North Dakota before joining St. Paul Public Schools in 1955 where he spent the duration of his long career in public education. Rodd loved teaching; he was a science teacher extraordinaire and served as mentor to countless students, many of whom later recognized his efforts as instrumental in their own career success. He always encouraged his students to be more than they believed they could be. He later served as science coordinator for St. Paul Public Schools and in his final years of teaching, taught English as a second language to non-native English speakers.
Rodd was a visionary educator and a founding inspiration behind Belwin, a cross-disciplinary, outdoor education laboratory (now the Belwin Outdoor Science Center) that was initially focussed on relating the science curriculum offered by St. Paul Public Schools with aspects of nature and the environment. Founded in 1971, Belwin was an idea ahead of its time and foreshadowed the importance of environmental and conservation education for young learners, providing an opportunity for many urban students to realize their first experience of nature beyond the city.
Next to Glacier National Park, Rodd’s favorite place was his cabin near Nisswa, MN where he and Vicki enjoyed many relaxing weekends and summer vacations over many years. Some of his most memorable moments at the cabin were those shared with family and friends over a beach fire or picnic, and walks down a country road with Vicki and one of his dogs. He never tired of looking out over the blue water and relished that view even in the final weeks of his life.
Rodd had a huge heart and his generosity was boundless; he always said, a gift is not a gift until you give it away. His children were an endless source of pride and he reveled in their accomplishments. He loved family; the holidays were especially joyous times for him and he looked forward to sharing laughter and stories with his brothers and extended family at holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. He looked forward to visits with his brother Cort and wife Andy at their farm in north central Minnesota; many good times were shared in the old farmhouse, and no visit was complete without a walk down the farm’s beautiful, tree-lined lane. Rodd was a big story-teller and was eager to share his adventures and exploits as a park ranger with anyone who would listen. He was a voracious reader; his favorite magazine was The New Yorker and he was particularly fond of books with a historical focus. He was a cross-country ski enthusiast and enjoyed snowshoeing and hiking, activities he also shared with Vicki. Among his creative pursuits was routing, and many friends and relatives received signs with routed sayings especially meaningful to them. He was fond of Whitecastle hamburgers (also a favorite of his brother-in-law Gary) and Chinese food. Rodd was happy, hopeful, optimistic, loving, kind, devoted and generous. He was full of love and he was loved so much.
He is preceded in death by his parents, twin sister Marilyn (Dolly), and brothers, Harvey (Nik) Sr. and Cortlandt. Rodd led a rich, productive and extraordinary life and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
The family extends its heartfelt thanks to the University of Minnesota doctors and nurses who cared for Rodd. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the donor’s chosen charity. A celebration of Rodd’s life will take place at a future date when it is safe to gather in person.