UNC Law School unveils portrait of Frye

UNC Law School unveils portrait of Frye
December 19
00:00 2014
(pictured above: Judge Frye with his wife, Shirley.)

More than 100 alumni, community members, students and faculty gathered in the UNC School of Law Graham Kenan Courtroom last month to view the unveiling of a portrait of the Honorable Henry E. Frye ’59. The portrait is a gift of the UNC School of Law Class of 2013 and was painted by John Seibels Walker.

Frye, a native of Ellerbe, became the first African-American to pursue to completion three full years of legal study and earn a law degree at UNC. He went on to become the first African-American in the 20th century to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly. He was also the first African-American to be appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court and to serve as the court’s chief justice.

Under the leadership of class gift committee leaders, Jeremy Collins, Charlie Hiser and Judson Williamson, the class of 2013 voted to commission the portrait as the class gift to honor Frye’s legacy and inspire future generations at the law school.

UNC School of Law Photos The portrait of Henry Frye is unveiled.

UNC School of Law Photos
The portrait of Henry Frye is unveiled.

“He is one of UNC Law’s brightest stars,” says Collins, 2013 class president, of Frye. “He’s a trailblazer.”

Current North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin ’88 offered remarks as part of the program. The audience that packed the courtroom included Sarah Parker ’69, former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court; present and former Associate Justices Cheri Beasley, Robert Neal Hunter ’73, Paul Newby ’80, Patricia Timmons-Goodson ’79, Willis Whichard ’65; N.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Collier ’59; and Ronald J. Haskell Jr., magisterial district judge for York County, Pa. UNC Chancellor Carol Folt was also in attendance to honor Frye.

In his remarks, Frye spoke easily of his history and of the pride he has in his family members, many of whom were in attendance. When he spoke of the portrait, Frye’s words were more halting and emotional. “Thank you very much to all of you, to the class of 2013, to the leadership first and to the rest of the class,” Frye said. “And to all of those who in any way supported this, I’m very grateful and humbled by it.”

After the unveiling, Dean John Charles “Jack” Boger ’74 spoke of the symbolic importance of hanging Frye’s portrait in the courtroom, where generations of law students will pass.

“We are immensely proud to claim you, Chief Justice Frye, as our alumnus,” Boger said in his remarks. “You have given us, given the state, much already. But we want still more. We want you as a perpetual presence for our students, someone who will henceforth oversee this great training ground of all our future lawyers.”

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