University’s All-Steinway Initiative Receives Gift From Odell and Katherine Fry
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Odell Fry always wanted to give something back to the University of Arkansas, an institution that he felt helped him succeed in life. Fry and his wife, Katherine, who both passed away in 2011, followed through with that commitment in the form of a $100,000 estate gift to the U of A.
“Mr. Fry didn't have a specific program in mind when he planned his estate. He just knew he wanted to show his gratitude to the university,” said Jim Harris, executive director of university development’s gift and estate planning. “He trusted the university to use the gift appropriately and wanted to provide flexibility.”
Based on the Frys’ love of music, their bequest is being used to support the university’s All-Steinway School initiative. The Steinway (Model B) grand piano will be housed in the office of Jura Margulis, an internationally recognized pianist and the inaugural holder of the Emily J. McAllister Endowed Professorship in Piano at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. A plaque honoring the Frys will be displayed on the piano.
“We greatly appreciate the Frys’ gift to the University of Arkansas and the positive impact it will provide to our students and faculty for decades to come,” said Robin Roberts, dean of Fulbright College. “The gift of a piano in support of the All-Steinway initiative is a fitting tribute to their love of music and Mr. Fry’s deep appreciation for the education he received at the U of A.”
In 2010, the university made a commitment to become an All-Steinway School, providing students and faculty with the highest quality pianos for instruction and performance. As one of 145 schools in the world to attain this honor, the university has set out to acquire all Steinway brand pianos, which are the preferred instruments of more than 99 percent of the concert artists worldwide. University of Arkansas faculty teach more than 315 music majors and minors in Fulbright College, all of whom must have proficiencies in piano and be supported by trained piano accompanists. Providing students and faculty members with exceptional equipment allows for the best instruction possible.
Odell Fry grew up during the depression on a farm in Charleston, Ark., realized the importance of a college education and became the only member of his family to graduate from college. After serving in the Army Air Force during World War II as an instructor at “tail gunner” school, Fry enrolled at Fort Smith Junior College (now the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith) and later moved on to the University of Arkansas, where he majored in math and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1950.
Fry started working for Weldon, Williams and Lick Printing Co. in Fort Smith the same year and spent nearly 40 years in a supervisory role there before retiring in 1989. His wife, Katherine, whom he called “Katy,” had also worked at the same printing company for several decades before they married in 1987.
A member of the family who wished to remain anonymous said one of Fry’s favorite pastimes was watching Razorback sports on television. “I don’t know if his TV ever got off the sports channels,” she said. “He was so proud of his degree. He knew that his education enriched his life in so many ways and he was truly grateful for that.”
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