Latrobe World War II veteran was ‘all about photography’
If Harry Frye wasn’t at a local fire or town council meeting, he was covering high school sports or taking candid photos basically everywhere he went.
“It’s all about photography,” said Patrick Frye, 57, of West Chester, about his father. “He always had his camera in his hand and didn’t go anywhere without it.”
Harry Frye, of Latrobe died Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. He was 94.
Mr. Frye was born Jan. 2, 1925, in Latrobe, a son of the late John and Ruth (Crowe) Frye. He graduated from Latrobe High School and earned a gymnastics scholarship to Rice University.
Instead of attending college, however, Mr. Frye enlisted in the Army, serving in Gen. Patton’s Third Army Division in Europe during World War II.
“It wasn’t something he liked to reflect on very much,” Patrick said. “But he routinely went back for his squadron’s reunions. There were a lot of men from the Latrobe area who were part of that group. They were all teenagers who enlisted at the time.”
During his time in the service, Mr. Frye developed a passion for photography, which he turned into a career back home. He owned a family photo studio and finishing shop, and worked for about four decades as a staff photographer for the Beaver County Times and Latrobe Bulletin.
“As a newspaper photographer, he was always on the go,” Patrick said. “He was pretty much on call 24-7. He was very connected to the community in that way.”
Throughout his career, Mr. Frye chronicled the Steelers’ rise into an NFL dynasty from the 1960s through the 1980s, photographed three U.S. presidents and made friends with legendary Latrobe golfer Arnold Palmer.
After retirement, Mr. Frye dug into his collection of cameras, photos and glass-plate images.
“I think at one point, he had something like 7,000 cameras in his collection,” Patrick said. “He volunteered that collection at places and historical societies all over Western Pennsylvania.”
When the former Sartoris Photography studio in Export Borough closed in the 1980s, Mr. Frye purchased the store’s contents.
“He became a curator, and that was sort of what he spent his second career doing,” Patrick said. “The more he engaged with local historical societies, the more motivated he was to go out and get more photos and equipment to restore.”
Patrick said that while his father certainly enjoyed being paid to take newspaper photos, it was the work he did in the community that inspired him.
“He took pictures everywhere we went,” Patrick said. “He took photos out of a desire to make connections and give people something they could cherish.”
Mr. Frye is survived by his six children, Laura (Dale) Lambert, Michelle (Greg) Frank, Chris (Rebecca) Frye, Robin (Frank) Pletz, Pat (Laura) Frye, Janice Jasinski; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be at noon, March 18 at Bradenville United Methodist Church, 5168 Route 982. A service of committal will be at noon, March 19 at Beaver Cemetery on Buffalo Street.
Memorial donations can be made to the Latrobe Historical Society, 416 Weldon St., Latrobe, PA, 15650, or to the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation, 1235 Third Ave., Freedom, PA, 15042.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .