Life Story / Obituary


On Dec. 19, 2023, Dr. David Edward Fry, beloved brother, husband, father and grandfather, died at home at the age of 80.

David was born in Detroit, Michigan, to David Lloyd George and Alma Loreine Fry (née Jones). David graduated from Hillsdale College with a BA in Business in 1965, and was recruited to teach at Northwood Institute in Midland, Michigan by Dr. V. Orval Watts. He later earned an MBA from Wayne State University (1969) and a DBA in Organization Theory (Conflict Resolution) from Kent State University (1975).

David enjoyed a lifelong career at Northwood University, starting as Assistant Professor in 1965, then as Academic Dean, Dean of the College, and Chancellor of the Institute. From 1982 to 2006, he served as President, overseeing campuses in Midland, MI; West Baden, IN; Cedar Hill, TX; West Palm Beach, FL; and a variety of international programs. After 2006, he returned to his passion for classroom teaching as President Emeritus. David devoted his career to promoting free enterprise and preparing students for entrepreneurial success, while growing and internationalizing Northwood’s student body. David was an inspiring speaker and a careful steward of the Northwood Idea, serving as a key contributor to the iconic book "When We are Free". He was an active member of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities and the National Automobile Dealers Association, and served on the boards of the Automotive Hall of Fame, Decker Energy, Chemical Bank, Reynolds and Reynolds Company, and Lear Corporation.

David married (Friederike) Claudia Waldmann in Erlangen, Germany on August 27, 1970. With their children, summers were spent boating in Michigan and traveling. After retirement from Northwood, David and Claudia sought out warmer winters in West Palm Beach, FL and summers on Grand Traverse Bay. Together they enjoyed music, current event discussions, lectures and film festivals, and visits from family and friends.

David is survived by his wife of 53 years, Claudia, brothers Larry (Leanne) and Randy (Jean), daughter Juliane (Dave) and son Daniel (Kara), and grandchildren Jackson and Madeleine.

A celebration of life will be planned for late spring or early summer in Midland, Michigan. In lieu of flowers, the Fry family asks that gifts be directed to Northwood University's David E. Fry Endowed Professorship in Free-Market Economics.

Please visit www.lifestorytc.com to share your thoughts and more. Life Story Funeral Home, Traverse City.