DICK FRY WITH WIFE MARILYN
PULLMAN – Dick Fry never completed a pass for Washington State. Never made a basket. Never hit a baseball. Never coached. Never ran the athletic department. That said, it might be impossible to find anyone who questions Fry’s 2009 enshrinement in the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame. It seems a fair and just reward for Fry, the two-legged history book of WSU sports.
Normally requiring a subscription, this article is free content. You can take out a Cougfan.com Pass for a FREE 7-day test drive and become a subscriber in one of three ways -- monthly, 6 months or Annual. Click on the 7-day free trial button at the top of the page for the various options, with the Annual Total Access Pass the most attractive in terms of price and perks.
Fry, WSU’s sports information director from 1957-70, is perhaps best known to most Cougars as the author of “Crimson and the Gray.” The 1989 epic chronicled the first century of Cougars athletics.
“I really felt honored to be asked to do that,” Fry said.
A World War II veteran and the father of three WSU graduates, Fry lives in Pullman with wife Marilyn (his first wife, Bea, died in 1971). At 89, Fry can instantly rattle off memorable dates and events in WSU sports history. He still attends games regularly.
Recently, Fry graciously sat down with Cougfan.com for nearly two hours of coffee drinking and storytelling at a downtown Pullman cafe. Fry’s hair turned snow white years ago, but his eyes sparkled like those of a teenager when he discussed 60 years of Cougar memories since he first arrived in Pullman in 1952.
CF.C: You’re such a diehard Cougar, many people are surprised to learn that you were born and raised in Oroville, Calif., and attended San Jose State. Why is WSU so important to you?
Fry: All three of the kids got to go to college here. You couldn’t beat that.
I’ll tell you what: Once a Cougar, always a Cougar. The feeling that these people have for the school is really something. It’s very warm and very genuine.
Not only is it a very warm and very genuine, but the location; it’s kind of one for all and all for one here … the community feeling here is wonderful.
CF.C: You got to know and/or work with some of the legendary figures in Cougars history. What was that like?
Fry: Talk about being lucky … Jack Friel. Buck Bailey. Marv Harshman. Jack Mooberry. John Chaplin at the end (of Fry’s SID tenure), the great track coach.
Babe Hollingbery. I wasn’t here when Babe was coaching, but I got to know him. Bobo (Brayton). It was marvelous.
Stan Bates (the athletic director) hired me. He went on to become commissioner of the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) until he died. Doc (Fred) Bohler was still here (living in Pullman). He didn’t die until ’60. Talk about a legend. Oh man, he was something.
CF.C: What is the most memorable Cougars sports event you’ve seen?
Fry: The Stanford (football) game in 1957. We were down 18-7 with 3:45 left, and we take over (possession) on our 13.
On the first play, Jack Fanning comes off the left wing, and right over the middle, Bobby Newman hits him. He (Fanning) splits the Stanford safeties and goes 87 yards to score.
We onside kick with Gene Baker from Buckley, Wash. … and Phil Mast, one of three John Rogers (High School in Spokane) guys who figure in this scenario, recovers the onside kick. Newman marches us down the field and throws a touchdown pass to Ellingsen (a Rogers graduate like Mast and Fanning). We go out front 21-18.
Don’t look now, but there’s still a minute five (1:05) left on the clock! It’s just hang on for dear life.
CF.C: The game was played at Stanford, but how did fans react in Pullman?
Fry: When we came home, the kids, the fans – it looked like a parade, a lighted parade, about from Colfax to Pullman. They’re parked along the road. We’re bussing in, of course, from Spokane.
Everyone in town and from the school meets in the Hollingbery Fieldhouse. It was just crazy.
CF.C: Who’s the greatest WSU athlete you’ve seen?
Fry: Keith Lincoln (a football running back) has to be right there. Dale “The Whale” Ford (a football, basketball and baseball player). Donnie Ellingsen (a football wide receiver and pole vaulter).
I’ll tell you what, I never met a young man who was as brilliant a student (as Ellingsen). He was all-everything as a student.
We listed him at 5-10 and 160. If he ever weighed more than 150 … he looked like a choir boy.
CF.C: Huge baseball fan that you are, what are your memories of Bobo Brayton, who coached so many of WSU’s best baseball teams?
Fry: No coach I ever worked with worked harder than Bobo. I mean, he did EVERYTHING. It was 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 360 days a year baseball.
CF.C.: So many people have come and gone from WSU since you retired in 1985 after 33 years at the school (a former newspaper man, Fry spent much of his time at WSU providing non-sports news for the media). You’ve expressed your gratitude to your successors as sports information director – Mike Wilson, Rod Commons and Bill Stevens – for keeping you “in the loop,” so what’s your take on the current state of WSU sports?
Fry: I’ve got to say something about Bill Moos (the Cougars athletic director). In E Pluribus Moos we trust. Bill Moos is the greatest thing that’s happened to Cougar athletics in the 60 years I’ve been here.