(cba:news) Captain Bob Fried

Joe Patterson jop at astro.columbia.edu
Sat Nov 15 08:04:45 EST 2003

Dear CBAers,

It's with terrible sadness that I write to inform you of Bob Fried's
death in a plane crash yesterday.  I received the news from Arne
Henden a few hours ago.  Bob flew for Delta Airlines for many years before
retirement, and since then has been in a volunteer air corps, flying needy
patients in his plane around the Southwest to receive medical treatment.
He flew to very remote places, without any regular air service... and on a
trip yesterday, his plane crashed.  An emergency call was received from
the plane, but the crash site was very remote and medics arrived too late.

Bob was a tremendously prolific astronomer.  The ADS lists 117
publications, and he contributed significantly to another 50-100.  He was
a cornerstone of the CBA, but he collaborated with many dozens of other
astronomers, as the author lists show.  In the U.S. amateur astronomy
community, I think he contributed more to the world of published research
than anyone in the last 40 years.

He was also a charismatic teacher.  Throughout the 90s, I brought
groups of students from New York on trips to the Southwest, with long
stays at Braeside Observatory.  Meeting up with Bob's energy and
mischievousness, that's what many of them remember most from those trips.
(Not counting the incredible beauty of northern Arizona and his
observatory amid the pine forest.) He later received grants from the
National Science Foundation to mentor high-school and college students
solo.  I'm sure he was the only amateur astronomer, and maybe the only
astronomer period, to receive such awards outside the aegis of an

Many CBAers knew Bob too.  His observatory was a popular spot to visit,
and all of us who attended CBA's only actual meetings (in North Carolina
and Toronto) remember him well.  Certainly me; I think he roomed with me
both times.  I had twenty years on him... but every night he was still
pulsing with energy when I was done for the day.  Jonathan had several
observing runs with him at Braeside; perhaps he could keep up with Cap'n
Bob a little better, since Jonathan has twenty-seven years on me.

I only knew the few details about the accident, second-hand from Arne.
I hope to learn some more.  But I felt so much grief, I needed to write
something right away.  If you'd like to share any of your memories of Bob,
I'd be very happy to receive them.


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