Francis Glenn Fry was born on 18 Apr 1900 in Texas, the son of Henry and Pleasant Fry. His father taught at a college and his mother was a public school teacher. He and his brother, Louis Edwin, were raised in Bastrop, TX. He graduated from Emile High School and then studied at Prairie View College.
On 15 Sep 1920, he entered K-State, studying electrical engineering. He was excused from military science and physical education on account of physical disability. His attendance was sporadic. He attended fall semester of 1921, and spring semester of 1923. Then there is a gap until spring semester of 1927, at which point he again attends full time, including the summer semesters of 1927 and 1928. He was invited to join Phi Kappa Phi.
"Francis shunned early classes as if they had been invented for his special torture. He either cut them completely or arrived just before the end of the period to learn the next assignment. In a few rare instances he had been induced to bring in the body at the proper time, but he immediately went sleep. However in such courses as advanced calculus and theory of equations the instructor was grateful even for that. On those days when he had little success in getting across new concepts to his class, he looked around in desperation for Fry. If Francis was present, he'd be napping. The instructor would awaken him and ask that he explain the problem. Francis would stretch, yawn, walk to the blackboard and present the material so simply even an idiot would understand, then return to his seat and resume his snooze. In one course he showed up only at the time of the six weeks, mid-semester, and final exams, yet he received an A grade.
"For several years after Francis took a course in wiring, the instructor reportedly told his class at the start of each final exam:
"Your problem is to convert this motor completely from AC to DC wiring. Don't tell me three hours are not long enough. Recently I had a colored boy named Francis Fry who was given the same problem. Ten minutes after the exam began, he came to my desk. I thought he wanted further instruction. Instead he told me he'd finished. Naturally, I thought he was kidding, but he insisted he was through. You may be sure I went over his work minutely, looking for some mistake. But it was perfect. Now if this colored boy could do it in ten minutes, you white boys ought to finish the job in three hours."
Livin' the Blues, pg. 80-81
He lived in the Phi Beta Sigma Chapter House, 1020 Colorado, through 1923. When he returned to school in 1927, he lived at 207 North 14th Street, taking his brother's place working for the Womer family. He married Ethel Mae Phillips in 1928.
He graduated from K-State with high honors on 29 May 1929 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. In 1930, he was an engineer at the Prairie View Normal & Industrial College power plant. He remained associated with Prairie View for the rest of his life. He and his wife had four children: Mary Ethel, Eleanor Jean, Irene LaVern, and Francis Glenn, Jr.
Francis Fry died on 12 Oct 1980 in Waller County Hospital in Hempstead, TX.
Photo courtesy of Gladys-Marie Fry
K-State Directory, 1920-1921
Royal Purple, 1921-1923, 1927, 1929
1900 Census: Texas - Bastrop County - Bastrop - District 3
1910 Census: Texas - Bastrop County - Bastrop - District 1
1930 Census: Texas - Waller County - Precinct 6 - District 7
Social Security Death Index
Texas Death Index
Texas Birth Index
Davis, Frank Marshall. Livin' the Blues (1992)
Fry-Thomas Building Dedication, 2001 (Praire View A&M University)
Carla Davis White, Granddaughter of Francis Glenn Fry