Donald S. Frey, Jr.

Donald S. Frey, Jr., died September 20th, 2020. He was 83.
Still here to love and miss him are his siblings, Richard Frey, Robert Frey and Janet Rohlf, and their spouses, his children, Bruce Frey and Carol Williams, and their spouses, his stepson, Jonathan Smith, and his grandsons, Christopher and Cory. Don also had many nieces and nephews and cousins who provided an eager audience for his jokes and anecdotes, of which he really had only five or so. Two of these five jokes featured a duck.

Don graduated from Denison University, where he made many dear friends who stayed in his life for more than sixty years, and earned a Masters degree from the University of Chicago. He worked for decades as a social worker with the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, most of that time in their Community Service Office, working for social justice. The final years of his working life, he was in private practice. Don was active in the civil rights movement in the turbulent 60’s in Topeka and supported causes dedicated to justice and acceptance. He was grateful to have met three great loves in his life and he truly regretted that they overlapped.

After retirement, Don volunteered at Audio-Reader, a radio service for the reading-disabled at the University of Kansas. For the last ten years, he had a weekly radio show where he and his son read small town news, played old rock and roll records, and discussed Don’s 1930’s Broadway show about the American labor movement. (The fact that the play was imaginary and Don hadn’t been born until 1937 did not hamper his enthusiasm for sharing anecdotes about the experience). Don enjoyed classic movies, great literature, Kris Kristofferson songs, and gathering with his family for reunions in a beloved New Jersey beach resort town. At the beach, though, he seldom went into the water because of the crabbies. His greatest love of all was old-time radio. He collected and shared and was an expert on radio dramas and comedies from the 30’s through the 50’s. His favorite show was The Great Gildersleeve, a long-running family comedy about a slightly pompous, occasionally misunderstood, but ultimately well-meaning fellow. He never saw the irony.

Don died peacefully with his son beside him, the voices of his daughter and sister on the phone in his ear, and the sounds of The Great Gildersleeve filling the room. His popular book, Great Tales of the Sea, is out-of-print and may never have been published. If you’d like to honor Don, consider donating to Audio-Reader at

5 Condolences

  1. sandrajean zahar on September 28, 2020 at 10:03 am

    So sorry for your loss my prayers are with you and your family

  2. Brooks Anita Appelbaum on September 28, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    What a beautiful and perfect tribute to your dad: it is exactly what he would have wanted, and I’m sure he’s enjoying it . . . his spirit lives in all the lives he touched.

  3. Alicia K. Bair on September 28, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    So sorry to hear this. This made me smile. It sounds like he had a great life and was well loved.

  4. Teresa Solaiza on September 29, 2020 at 8:20 am

    So sorry for your loss, ???????? prayers to you and your family!

  5. Theresa on October 6, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    Don was wonderfully witty and honest. I miss him already. Feel honored to have known him for the short time I did.

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