In Memory of Richard N. Frye
CMES is saddened to report that Richard Nelson Frye, Aga Khan Professor of Iranian Emeritus, passed away on March 27, 2014 at the age of ninety-four. After receiving his PhD from Harvard in 1949, Professor Frye helped to found the Center for Middle Eastern Studies in 1954, and served as its first associate director until 1957, when he became Aga Khan Professor of Iranian. Upon his retirement in 1990 he remained an honorary associate of Kirkland House and an active participant in the life of the Center.
Dubbed “Irandust,” meaning “Friend of Iran,” by the scholar and linguist Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda, Professor Frye had a lifelong love of Iranian history and culture. His publications number over 20 books and 150 articles, including The Heritage of Persia (1963), The Charisma of Kingship in Ancient Iran (1964), and his latest, the autobiographical Greater Iran: A 20th-century Odyssey (2011).
Frye’s students include members of the foreign service and federal administration and many leading Middle East studies scholars, including Harvard professors William Graham and Roy Mottahedeh. Professor Graham recalls, “To sit in a class of his was always an adventure: He was a colorful man with many brilliant and sometimes quite quirky, but always stimulating, observations on history, religion, peoples, and places. He delighted in almost everything, from colleagues to languages — and he had a great many of both.” Professor Mottahedeh notes his contribution to and stature in the field of Iranian studies: “In his generation Richard Frye was a giant among scholars of Iranian studies. He spanned the entire range of Iranian studies from prehistoric times to the present day. We are unlikely to see again scholars of his breadth in the field of Iranian studies.”