Religious Studies Emeritus Professor Frank Frick Succumbs to Illness

A celebration of life for Frank Frick will take place in the Albion College Bobbitt Visual Arts Building on Sunday, July 24, 2011 from 2 to 4 p.m.

By Jake Weber

Frick (left) in IsraelFrick (left) on one of several trips made to Israel

With students in 1995With students in 1995

Frick (center) with colleagues William Gillham (standing) and Johan Stohl, a group affectionately known as "the Trinity" by students.Frick (center) with colleagues William Gillham (standing) and Johan Stohl, a group affectionately known as "the Trinity" by students.

Frick's official College portrait circa 1970Frick's College portrait circa 1970

Professor emeritus of religious studies Frank Frick passed away June 19, 2011 at his home in Quincy.

"Frank Frick was both a great scholar and unforgettable teacher, who had a profound impact on generations of students," commented Albion College President Donna Randall. "Particularly noteworthy was the broad range of his interests—spanning religion, history, and international relations—and he enthusiastically engaged students in all of them during his years on the faculty."

Frick joined Albion College's religious studies department in 1969, and specialized in biblical and Jewish studies. However, his legacy includes developing off-campus study programs, serving as interim College chaplain and advising on the College's response regarding investment in South Africa. While his scholarship was focused on the Old Testament and ancient Israel, he also incorporated modern anthropology and geopolitics to help students make connections to course work. He retired with emeritus status in 2001.

Frick developed and directed for a time the Great Lakes Jerusalem program. The program exposed participants to both Jewish and Palestinian perspectives in the Middle East, encouraging a comprehensive and balanced study of the conflict.

Frick also expanded Albion students' opportunity to learn about 20th-century Judaism by founding, with history professor Geoffrey Cocks, Albion's Holocaust Studies program.

In the 1990s, Frick and Cocks taught a first-year seminar on the Holocaust, which included a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. The program has since grown to also offer a quarter-unit seminar open to all students, and a service-learning trip to Poland, where the group has traveled six times to restore an abandoned Jewish cemetery.

"Frank Frick brought great good to Albion College and to the wider world," Cocks remarked. "There are lots of smart people in the world, but intellect and empathy together equal wisdom, a far rarer and precious commodity that was at the center of Frank's professional and personal life.

Frick combined his Old Testament scholarship with archaeological work done in northern Israel to formulate theories of how Iron Age people lived their daily lives. This work in part led to Frick's twice being named Albion's Phi Beta Kappa scholar. Frick published four books related to his scholarship, Ruins of Tell Taannek; The Iron Age Cultic Structure (2001) A Journey through the Hebrew Scriptures (1995), Formation of the State in Ancient Israel (1985) and The City in Ancient Israel (1977). He also held the endowed Stanley S. Kresge Professorship in Religious Studies.

A member of a study group sent by Albion's Board of Trustees to South Africa in 1988, Frick served as coordinator of the College's South Africa initiatives, leading Albion's goal of helping the post-apartheid state develop its human capital.

Philosophy professor emeritus and former Honors Program director Gene Cline remembered Frick as "the man who was so kind to me early in my career, the man who hugged me when a publication necessary for tenure came through, who gently chided me when I stepped over a line, and who showed us all what a strong scholar could do in his field."

Cline continued, "In my tenure at Albion no colleague has combined a keener sense of student life (gained from his years as College Chaplain), the combination of theory with iconic artifacts when teaching, and very strong scholarship. I value Frank as a friend and mentor—for the example he set for me and for our College. I can still hear his enthusiastic blowing of the shofar echoing in our hallway."

Frick is survived by his wife Bonnie; daughter Kimberly Frick Arndts, '84, her husband, Tom, and sons Nathaniel, '14, and Bradley; and daughter Rachel Frick Rowlson and sons Alex and Josh.

Memorial gifts in honor of Frank Frick can be made to Albion College’s Holocaust Studies Service Learning Project (HSSLP) by going to,

Please visit a page for Frick at CaringBridge,

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