In Memoriam: Robert E. Frazel


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death August 15, 2006 of retiree Robert E. Frazel in Naples, Florida. He was 71.

Born August 19, 1934 in Somerville, Mass., Robert Ellard Frazel attended Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School, graduating in 1952.  Bob served in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1956 on the USS Bushnell.  While in the military he was trained in navigational gyros calibration, the repair of electrical equipment, and attended motion picture repair and operator’s school, having served an apprenticeship for motion picture projectionist before he entered military service.  After discharge from the Navy, he passed the Massachusetts state exam for a projectionist license, and worked as a projectionist at Community Theatre in Osterville from 1958 to 1961. During this same time he also worked at Electro Switch Corp. in Osterville, assembling and testing prototypes of slip rings and telemetering switches and as a plastics technician. 

Bob began his long career at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in August 1961, when he joined the staff as a laboratory technician working with Alan Faller and later Alan Ibbetson in the Department of Theoretical Oceanography and Meteorology, later merged with the Physical Oceanography Department.  He was promoted to research assistant in 1968 and to senior research assistant in 1973, working with Jack Whitehead in the geophysical fluid dynamics laboratory. During the 1960s and 1970s he also worked on aircraft with Peter Saunders and the marine meteorology group.

At his retirement party in August 1994, Dean John Farrington and Associate Dean Jake Peirson presented Bob with a special degree, complete with hood and framed diploma, as Doctor of Human Praxis from Upper Quissett Unstately University in recognition of his unselfish and patient help with students, visitors and staff members. The diploma was signed by First Fellow Tom Aldrich and Top Overseer Susan Tarbell, and Bob took great delight in the honor.  He chaired several WHOI committees, participated in many Institution activities, and enjoyed speaking about oceanography to civic and community groups.  He was a loyal patron of The Buttery, and a long-time member of the Greater Falmouth Mostly All Male Men’s Chorus, which performed a specially written song in his honor at his retirement party. 

After retirement Bob moved to Naples, FL where he was very active in the Naples Orchestra & Chorus and Marco Island choruses. He was also a member of the Lions and Elks clubs.

He is survived by two sons, Robert E. Frazel, Jr. of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Richard E. Frazel of Sandwich, Mass.; a daughter, Melinda A. Mlodzienski of Macedon, N.Y.; five grandchildren; a brother, Donald A. Frazel; many nieces and nephews; and many friends including his caregiver Thomas Kletschka.

Funeral arrangements are private. Memorial donations may be sent to Hospice of Naples, 1095 Whipporwill Lane, Naples, FL 34109  or Naples Orchestra and Chorus, P.O. Box 9542, Naples, FL 34101-9542.


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(Photo by Shelley Dawicki, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)