Jack H. Frailey was born May 8, 1925 in Lakeland, Ohio, a son of the late Pierre L. and Almyra K. (Leedy) Frailey. Raised and educated in Flushing, N.Y., he graduated from Flushing High School. At 16, he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned Engineers, Bachelor, and two Master of Science degrees in aeronautical engineering in 1944, 1947, and 1954, respectively. While an MIT undergraduate, he designed a fighter plane that is still in use today. He honorably served his country in the United States Navy during World War II and earned the rank of Lieutenant, JG.
His professional career began in 1954 when he directed the New Polaris Missile Program at Lockheed Aircraft in California. His success at Lockheed landed him a position in a Boston firm that later became ITEK.
Jack’s return to Boston also was a return to his alma mater, where he coached MIT’s light weight crew team. Just six months into his coaching career, the team won the 1954 Thames Challenge Cup in Henley, England and again the following year. In a 1961, Boston Globe article about Jack’s impressive coaching career, the headline read, “MIT astounds experts with two wins.” The story noted that MIT’s rowing program was half the size of other rowing colleges.
In 1962 Jack joined MIT and held positions such as Special Assistant to the Provost, Director of Student Financial Aid, and Head Rowing Coach. His last position before retiring in 1998 was as Director in the Office of Registration and Student Financial Services. While working in Boston and Cambridge, Jack lived many years in Concord. He was one of the original residents of the unique community of Conantum in Concord, where he raised two sons. He later moved to Shrewsbury, where he lived for more than 17 years.
His true love was crew and his greatest gift to oarsmen was his steadfast and zealous coaching and mentoring. His contributions to rowing went beyond the boundaries of MIT. The author Verity wrote, “On the water the confusion stops, the peace begins, the tension drops, Rhythm, run, glide and catch, muscles work, mind does relax, body and boat synchronized, the scullers grace exemplified, Forever to be able to use the blade, to traverse the water is my heaven made.”
Jack was a member, President, and later Chairman of the Board of the U.S. Rowing Board of Directors, and President of the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen. His recognitions include the highest honor when he was inducted into the U.S. Rowing Hall of Fame for conspicuous service to its community. He received the Jack Kelly award in 1992 for superior achievements in rowing. Jack served as Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Rowing Committee and its head manager. In 2008, he received the Henry B. Kane 24′ Award for his accomplishments in fundraising for his much-loved MIT. He also invented a patented rowing simulator.
In addition to rowing, Jack excelled at virtually anything to which he applied his mind and body. He enjoyed skiing, music, singing—especially in a Concord barbershop quartet—photography, gardening, and travel. An avid writer, his works appeared in The Oarsmen Magazine, Milwaukee Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Official NBC Olympic Program, and the American Rowing Magazine.
Jack and his family were members of the Hodge Podge Lodge, where they enjoyed skiing with friends at Mount Sunapee. His travels in Europe were often to follow international crew regattas. When each of his boys was 16, he took them on a two-week trip to Europe.
Jack leaves his wife of 24 years, Jean (Carlson) Frailey; his sons, Peter Frailey and his wife Laurie (Smith) Frailey of Westford and Richard Frailey and his wife Lee Ellyn (Pendergraft) Frailey of Spokane, Wash.; his grandchildren, Jamie, Tyler, Reed and Alexandra Frailey; Jean’s children, Jonathan I. Rich and his wife Barbara (Cheyne) of Dallas, Texas, David C. Rich and his partner Scott Smith of Maplewood, N.J., and Terri L. Neville and her husband Robert of Harvard; and Jean’s grandchildren, Andrew and Allison Rich, Benjamin and Riley Jean Neville. Jack was predeceased by his siblings, Charles Frailey and Dorothy Fuller.
Family and friends will gather to honor and remember Jack’s life in the Chapel at Southgate, 30 Julio Dr., Shrewsbury, at a day and time to be announced. The service will be conducted by his pastor, Rev. Don Whitesel of Grace Baptist Church in Hudson. There are no calling hours and burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, Jack’s memory may be honored with a contribution to the Jack H. Frailey (1944) Director of Crew Fund, c/o Bonnie Kellermann ’72, Director of Memorial Gifts, 600 Memorial Dr., W98-500, Cambridge, MA 02139.
Jack’s family wishes to thank the wonderful caregivers at CareOne in Millbury; Margarita at Compassionate Care Hospice; and Lou, who provided many hours of tender loving care.
His wife is resting in the assurance that Jack is at peace in the presence of his heavenly father.