Henry Clay Frick II, President of Frick Collection, Dies at 87

posted 2007-02-15 15:00:03 by DaveM

When Dr. Henry Clay Frick II inherited his grandfather's name, he also inherited strong ties to Pittsburgh, a city to which he was dedicated despite having been born and raised in New York City. Dr. Frick died Friday at his home in New Jersey after a long illness. He was 87.

Dr. Frick was born in 1919 to Frances Dixon Frick and Childs Frick, son of rags-to-riches industrialist Henry Clay Frick, who made his fortune with the H.C. Frick Coke Co.

Dr. Frick graduated from Princeton University in 1942 and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1945.

He volunteered for the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and was stationed in Germany after World War II.

After returning to the states, Dr. Frick returned to Columbia, serving on the faculty as a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology from 1955 to 1985 and as co-director of the Columbia University Medical Center's gynecological oncology unit.

"He's a person who was very selfless as far as his time with the patients," said Dr. Richard U. Levine, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the college and one of Dr. Frick's former students. "He was a very dedicated teacher to the resident staff, and also very dedicated to his medical students."

Dr. Frick was personable and created a friendly environment for his students, Levine said.

"He was kind of a gruff, outdoorsy person, but with a nice sense of humor," Levine said. "He always had a twinkle in his eye."

When his aunt, Helen Clay Frick, died in 1984, Dr. Frick oversaw the restoration of the family's Pittsburgh home, called Clayton, on the grounds of the Frick Art and Historical Center. As president of the center's board, Dr. Frick visited Pittsburgh several times each year to make sure the center was run according to his aunt's wishes, McIntosh said.

"He had a definite attachment to Pittsburgh," said his daughter, Adelaide Frick Trafton. "He was very loyal to all of his family history and what they did in Pittsburgh and New York."

While the Frick family is continuing their presence on the board, many of the responsibilities are shifting to Western Pennsylvanians.

"They're wanting the Pittsburgh contingent to take over more," said Dan Gallagher, a Pittsburgh-based attorney for the Frick family. "None of the family members live in Pittsburgh. ... The majority of the members of the board are now Pittsburghers or Western Pennsylvanians as opposed to family members."

Dr. Frick took on responsibility for the Frick Collection and the neighboring Frick Art Reference Library in New York City after his father's death in 1965.

"I think when he had responsibilities, he was very dedicated to them," said Patricia Barnett, the Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian at the reference library. "I found him to be, in certain ways very serious, but also soft and caring."

Dr. Frick is survived by his wife, Emily; three daughters, Adelaide Frick Trafton, Elise Dixon Frick and Frances Dixon Frick (now Sister Paula of the Serbian Orthodox Church); a son, Henry Clay Frick III; two stepsons, Richard S. du Pont Jr. and David W. du Pont; five grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be conducted at 2 p.m. Feb. 22 at St. James Church, 71st Street and Madison Avenue, New York City.

The family suggests that donations be made in his honor to the Brain Donation Program, c/o Jane Sherman, Neurological Institute, Columbia University Medical Center, 630 W. 168th St., P&S Box 16, NY, NY 10032.