Frederick A. Spear ’45

Frederick A. Spear ’45 died on December 31, 2008, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

He was born on December 26, 1923, in Methuen, Mass. He spent his childhood summers attending Camp Lawrence on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, and prepared for college at Edward F. Searl’s High School in Methuen. He was a member of Sigma Nu at Bowdoin, where his education was interrupted by three years spent serving in the Army during WWII. He spent most of his deployment as a cryptographer stationed in Antwerp, Belgium, where he earned two battle stars and achieved the rank of sergeant. He graduated cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1947 but remained a member of the Class of 1945. He went on to earn a master’s degree from Harvard in 1948 and a doctorate from Columbia in 1957. He began a long academic career teaching French and Spanish at Union College from 1948 to 1950, then at Wesleyan University from 1951 to 1953. He was an instructor of French at Columbia College in New York from 1953 to 1957, and an instructor and assistant professor of French at Brown University from 1957 to 1961. In 1959, he won a Fulbright grant to study at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1961, he took a position teaching French as an assistant professor of modern languages at Skidmore College. He moved up through the ranks, becoming an associate professor in 1963 and full professor in 1969, remaining there until his retirement in 1986. Throughout his career, he had a passion for researching and writing bibliographies on two of his favorite French philosophers, Voltaire and Diderot. His research took him through much of Eastern and Western Europe and resulted in the publication of three books. He also had an interest in 18th century studies and was an active member of the American Friends of Lafayette. He spent the end of his life on Swains Pond in Barrington, N.H., and at his beach home in Salisbury, Mass. He was a member of the First Religious Society Unitarian Universalist Church in Newburyport, Mass., and the First Congregational Society Unitarian Church in Hampton Falls, N.H. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Phyllis (Warburton) Spear; daughter Priscilla Toth; and son Frederick S. Spear.