Stanley B. Frost (1913 – 2013)
By McGill Reporter Staff
Stanley Brice Frost, professor, administrator and historian, passed away in Montreal on July 25. He had celebrated his 100th birthday this past February.
For many, including longtime friend and colleague, Peter F. McNally, Frost’s passing means McGill has lost one of its greatest champions. “Stanley was utterly devoted to this University for more than 50 years,” said McNally, Director of the History of McGill Project. “You could say that Stanley’s career here ended last Thursday [the day he passed].”
Frost was born in England on February 17, 1913 just prior to World War I. He earned his Bachelor of Divinity from London University in 1936, followed by a D.Phil from Marburg University. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Frost, who had just recently been ordained a Methodist minister, stayed in London where he served as both a pastor and an air raid warden.
After a seven-year stint teaching Old Testament Language and Literature at Didsbury College, Bristol University, Frost came to McGill in 1956. It was the beginning of a extraordinary career. “Stanley had a remarkable ability to accept challenges and to take these challenges onto successful completion,” said McNally. “Just look at what he did here at McGill.”
Over the next five decades, the indefatigable Frost held many positions including Professor of Old Testament Studies 1956-75; Dean of Faculty of Divinity 1957-63; Dean of Graduate Studies and Research 1963-69; and Vice-Principal (Administration and Professional Faculties) 1969-74.
In 1975, Frost stepped away from both teaching and administration and took on a new challenge; becoming the founding Director of the History of McGill Project. As McGill’s official historian, Frost spent the next 28 years studying, researching and promoting the long history of the University. Along the way he helped found the James McGill Society, for the study of McGill’s history, as well as author a number of major publications including “McGill University: For the Advancement of Learning”; “The Man in the Ivory Tower: F. Cyril James of McGill”; and “James McGill of Montreal.”
“Stanley could have retired in 1975 and people would have applauded his outstanding career,” said McNally. “Instead he capped it by becoming the first Director of the McGill History Project and the first official University historian.
“We’ve had many outstanding teachers at McGill, many outstanding researchers and many upstanding administrators, but Stanley exceled in all three areas. It is very hard to think of anyone who has done something comparable at the University.”
McNally, who first met Frost when he came to McGill in the 1960s, remembers him as being someone you could go to for counsel. “Stanley was wise and judicious,” he said. “A man of high values and great balance.
“It is no surprise that a succession of Principals turned to him for advice.”
But as accomplished a McGillian as Frost was, McNally remembers his friend most as a great man.
“He had an outstanding career on a professional level but it is at the personal level that I remember Stanley most fondly,” said McNally. “He was a very fine man who was entirely devoted to his family, his friends and his church. He was optimist, cheerful and friendly, who was entirely supportive and loyal. You couldn’t have asked for a better friend.”