Obituary – Dr. Richard Nelson Frye

FRYE, Richard Nelson Of Cambridge & Brimfield, passed away on March 27, 2014 at home. Aga Khan Professor of Iranian, Emeritus at Harvard University, since the age of 12, Frye pursued his fascination with the Persianate and Iranian language area ranging from Turkey to western China. A prolific traveler, he resided long periods abroad, knew ancient languages, spoke contemporary languages of Turks, Iranians, Afghans, Tajiks, Uzbeks as well as Russian, German, French. His parents were both Sweden-born. Frye’s last book, Greater Iran: A 20th Century Odyssey, a memoir, maps the course of modern Middle Eastern studies evolution at US campuses, his initiatives to create endowed university chairs at Columbia, Harvard and through the National Armenian Assoc. for Study & Research. Graduating secondary school at 14, college at 19, and starting his graduate work at Harvard in the pre-WWI period, he joined the war effort, spent years in Kabul & Istanbul with the Office of Strategic Services (precursor to CIA), then returned to Harvard for his PhD. By 1957, he was established in the position he held until retirement (1990). Since then he added two more books to thirteen earlier titles, one of which, served as the basis of Michael Crichtons Eaters of the Dead. His books have been translated into many languages & continue in reprint. His library (25,000 items) is housed at Boston University. His devotion to Irans rich ancient and medieval culture endured political turmoil & he accepted honors from Reza Shah Pahlavi and former President Ahmadinejad. Frye is survived by wife, Eden Naby, their son, Nels Mishael Naby Frye, daughter, Gurprasad Khalsa, son, Robert G. Frye, 6 grandchildren & 1 great-grandchild.

Funeral Serv: Memorial Church, Harvard Univ., Tues., April 1, 2 p.m.

Published in The Boston Globe on Mar. 30, 2014