In Memoriam: Jack Fris

Dear Jack,

My Brother texted me today.
He said you passed away.
You taught us both.
To you we toast.

Although our educative experiences with you were different, he and I both held you in high regard for you frankness and skill with words. The way you would seamlessly drive on both side of the road as Academic, Teacher, Educator. And then, with a twist of the tongue, you could flash your Post-Modern wit or beatnik knowledge to remind us that you too were once at the forefront of tomorrow.

I was younger back then. We both were.
You came into my life shortly after Kevin Kane’s theater workshop production, A Full Circle. The two night event held at the Joseph Sniffen Auditorium was his swan song to the school; a dazzling display of song, dance, live music, comedy and drama. Behind the scenes it included a stellar stage crew as well as astounding guest feedback during the production phase–thank you P. Reubens🙏 and thank you Jackie.

When you walked into the classroom the following school year, my classmates and I were unsure about what to expect. We quickly found out that you would not be producing a live choreographed triple threat of a show. Instead, with you came an introduction to the Theatre of the Absurd through Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot / En attendant Godot. I leapt into the role of Lucky. Absurd was my bread and butter.

When it came time for the monologue, however, your guidance and time spent deconstructing the text helped to craft an understanding of this character’s non sequitur written by the Irish playwright.

I would recall our conversations and your input several year later while preparing for a recital of Vicente García-Huidobro Fernández’s poema “Altazor Canto VII” at Humboldt State University’s Native American Forum and also during my trip to Paris whilst visiting Beckett and his wife’s resting place, le Cimetière du Montparnasse. Surreal to know that you too are now amongst those that have said good bye to this world.

My appreciation for the place you held in my life is really beyond words. Your lessons and the insights carried beyond the classroom and helped to foster my interest in the French language and its Literature–from Baudelaire to Piaf and beyond. I don’t consider myself to be a stage shy person, but you helped to understand how to speak well on stage–even when rambling. I am Lucky to have been in your class.

Rest in Peace Mister Fris.
July 4, 1958 – June 2, 2022
Michael Ray

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