Robert Frye

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Robert Lafayette Frye

(Louisiana educator and politician)​​

Robert L. Frye of LA.jpeg.jpg

Born January 9, 1927​
Shongaloo, Webster Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died February 4, 2011 (aged 84)​
Springhill, Webster Parish​

Resting place:
Springhill Cemetery​

Political Party Republican candidate for Louisiana Superintendent of Education (1972)​
Spouse Bettye Elmore Frye (married 1945-2011, his death)​

Robert Randal Frye
​ Bettye Rene Frye
​ Deborah Jean Frye Ferachi
​ Kevin Dale Frye​

Religion Southern Baptist

Robert Lafayette Frye (January 9, 1927 – February 4, 2011) was an educator and politician in his native Louisiana.


Frye was born to Jennings Bryan Frye, Sr. (1896–1970), and the former Fannie Mae Coyle (1900–1994) in Shongaloo, south of Springhill in Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana, where at the age of sixteen he graduated from Shongaloo High School. He enrolled at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, from which he received in 1966 his Ph.D. in education. On October 6, 1945, Frye wed the former Bettye Elmore (also born 1927), and left for stateside service in the United States Army two months after the conclusion of World War II.[1]

His career began as a teacher/coach at Reeves High School in Reeves in Allen Parish in south Louisiana. He returned to Webster Parish as a school principal of three schools. [2] He took sabbatical leave from Shongaloo High School in 1963 to work on his doctorate degree at LSU.[3] Frye advanced to the Louisiana Department of Education in Baton Rouge as the state supervisor of high schools[4] and finally to the faculty at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, at which he also served from 1970 to 1990 on the elected Tangipahoa Parish School Board.[1]

Campaign for state superintendent

In 1972, Frye sought the then elected, and since appointed, position of Louisiana state education superintendent. He won the Republican nomination over Otis Romaine Russell (1933-1988), 8,245 votes (81.4 percent) to 1,889 (18.6 percent).[5] Russell is a former controversial Baton Rouge Teamsters Union attorney, who later confessed in 1980 during his legal disciplinary hearing to mental illness.[6] This was the last closed primary held for state and local offices in Louisiana because the state switched to the nonpartisan blanket primary four years later.​

Frye had expected to face the two-term Democratic incumbent, Bill Dodd, but Dodd was instead unseated in the party primary in 1971 by Louis J. Michot of Lafayette,[7] a businessman, former state representative, and member of the State Board of Education. Promising "fresh new approaches, Frye ran against Michot on the GOP ticket headed by gubernatorial standard-bearer David C. Treen, then of Jefferson Parish in suburban New Orleans, who challenged the Democrat Edwin Edwards. Other Republicans running statewide in the February 1, 1972, general election were former State Representative Morley Hudson of Shreveport, the nominee for lieutenant governor and Thomas Eaton Stagg, Jr. (1923-2015), also of Shreveport, the nominee for state attorney general. All of the statewide Republican candidates went down to defeat, but Treen led his party slate by polling 42.8 percent against Edwards, winner of the first of his four nonconsecutive terms in the office.[8]

After Michot unseated Dodd, Frye telephoned him to offer congratulations. A few weeks later, Frye alleged that Michot, along with a brother, was operating a bar in Lafayette. Frye also claimed that Michot had offered him a high level job in a new Michot education department if Frye would withdraw from the general election contest.[9] Michot denied the charges[9] and easily prevailed, 662,597 votes (63.5 percent) to Frye's 380,896 (36.5 percent).[8] At the time Frye challenged Michot, the Republican Party in Louisiana numbered fewer than 38,000 registrants in the state; Frye henced polled ten times the votes of his voter base. He lost his native Webster and Tangipahoa Parish, where he resided at the time of that campaign. Frye polled majorities in East Baton Rouge Parish and five north Louisiana parishes: Caddo, Ouachita, LaSalle, Lincoln and Winn, the former stronghold of the pro-Long political political faction.[8][10]

Death and family

Years later, Frye retired to Springhill, located just south of the Arkansas state boundary. He died at the age of eighty-four. In addition to his wife, he is survived by four children, Robert Randal Frye (born 1947) of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Bettye Rene Frye (born 1951) of Baton Rouge, Deborah Jean Frye Ferachi (born 1952), and husband, Kenneth Raymond "Kenny" Ferachi (born 1950), of Plaquemine in Iberville Parish, south of Baton Rouge, and Kevin Dale Frye (born 1957) and wife Janice of Benton in Bossier Parish; a sister, Nona Rhea Walker (1920-2016) of Baton Rouge; six grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.[1] He was predeceased by his brother, Dr. Jennings Bryan Frye, Jr. (1918–2005), of Baton Rouge.[1]

Frye's obituary describes his "greatest pride as the children he knew and educated in schools and colleges." His service was held on February 7, 2011, at his home church, the First Baptist Church of Springhill. Interment followed in Springhill Cemetery.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Robert L. Frye. The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, February 6, 2011. Retrieved on February 6, 2011.
  2. Minden Herald, September 11, 1958, p. 1.
  3. "Strong Named Principal at Sibley High School", Minden Herald, August 8, 1963, p. 1.
  4. "Frye Is Republican Candidate for Education Superintendent," Minden Press-Herald, June 16, 1971, p. 8.
  5. Louisiana Secretary of State, Recapitulation, Republican Primary Election, November 6, 1971.
  6. Disciplinary Hearing: O. Romaine Russell. Retrieved on February 6, 2011.
  7. Coincidentally, Frye had the middle name of "Lafayette", and his opponent, Michot, was from Lafayette, Louisiana.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Louisiana Secretary of State, February 1, 1972, general election returns
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Frye Released Papers Say Michot Unethical", Minden Press-Herald, January 27, 1972, p. 1.
  10. Billy Hathorn, "The Republican Party in Louisiana, 1920-1980", (Natchitoches, Louisiana: Northwestern State University, 1980), p. 203