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Fry-Thomas Power Plant

(Biography from Fry-Thomas Power Plant Building Dedication Ceremony Booklet)

Francis Glenn Fry, Sr.

Fry-Thomas Building dedication Francis Glenn Fry, Sr., better known as "Chief", was the first of two sons, the other being late Louis Edwin Fry, Sr., born to the union of Henry B. and Pleasant Anna Glenn Fry.

He attended the public school in Bastrop, Texas and at the age of fifteen matriculated to Prairie View Normal and Industrial College for study, and work where he graduated in 1918 in Mechanic Arts prior to attending Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. He graduated from that institution in 1929 with a major in Electrical Engineering.

Prior to completing his studies at KSU he married Ethel M. Phillips of Austin, Texas and to that union four children were born, Mary Ethel Moore (retired Data Processing Supervisor - PVAMU, and retired PV City Municipal Court Clerk); Eleanor Jean Bryan (Community College & Kindergarten instructor - California/Virginia); Irene La Verne Davis (associate registrar - PVAMU); and Francis Fry, Jr. (retired M. Sgt USAF).

Francis Fry, 1959, Chief EngineerMr. Fry returned to Prairie View College after graduating from KSU as an instructor of Stationary Engineering/Physics/Math. Later, he assumed the position of Chief Engineer of the Power Plant and Utilities along with a host of related duties.

During his many years of services at PV College (now PVAMU), he wore many hats and/or spearheaded numerous projects in related areas in the interest of the university and surrounding communities, that included but was not limited to securing equipment/installations/maintenance and/or making parts to improvise operations when funds were not available, or making replacement parts when they were no longer available even if funds were.

In this regard, he served as the Fire Chief for the university; sound/lights/special effects person for university plays/educational conferences/annual open house, etc; chief motion picture operator/instructor, after first securing the equipment/screen and installing them; engineered the disassembly/move/re-assembly of the TAMU athletic stands to the original PV Blackshear field site behind the present Administration building; PV site NYA consultant during WWII; construction engineer and chief operator of the first college KPVS radio station. Standing today in front of the present Administration building, is the flag pole that he engineered and supervised the construction.

Mr. Fry was selected as a member of the team of technicians from the PV base to participate in the Liberian Project to re-establish the Booker Washington Institute in West Africa. Accompanied by his wife Ethel and teenage, Francis Jr., he joined the team in 1957 and journeyed to Liberia to lend his expertise in various engineering-related areas including the installation of a power plant, radio station, and other projects similar to the projects at PV. After a year and a half, his wife returned to the states, with health related problems, and expired shortly thereafter.

Portrait of Francis FryMr. Fry continued his tour of duty in Liberia with his son who completed his high school studies at BWI. Prior to returning to the states in 1961, Mr. Fry met and married Virgie Mason Pruitt of Los Angeles, California, who also taught at the school in Liberia.

Upon resuming his stateside PV employment, he assumed the chairmanship of the Department of Electrical Engineering until his retirement in 1965, as Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering. He and his wife Virgie operated a restaurant, were active in city government, and for several years Mr. Fry published the Prairie View City News.

He was a member of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, later transferring to Mt. Corinth Baptist Church in Hempstead, Texas. He was a member of the Kiwanis organization, Optimist Club, and Retired Teacher's Association. He was a Phi Beta Sigma and name "Engineer of the Year" on several occasions. He was a also listed in "Who's Who in Engineering" numerous times, and received numerous other awards and citations throughout his career.

His quest for knowledge never ended, and his talent for simplifying and sharing even the most complex matters, made him a master teacher. It was nothing unusual for him to be seen operating a bulldozer, erecting a water tower, climbing a telephone pole, laying bricks, pouring cement, repairing a car, welding materials, shoeing a horse, etc., as a part of rectifying a problem and/or sharing knowledge with his family, students, co-workers, and the community. He enjoyed playing the organ, piano, violin and drums. In addition to becoming quite a photographer, he took pride in completing the beginner aviator course to enable him to make his first solo flight from the PV landing field.

Mr. Fry expired October 12, 1980, after a brief illness, and his wife Virgie, expired February 8, 1989.

Francis Fry Family, 2001

(photographs and dedication booklet courtesy of Carla Davis White)

Sources of Information:

Fry-Thomas Power Plant Building Dedication Ceremony booklet (Praire View A&M University)
Carla Davis White, Granddaughter of Francis Glenn Fry