July 17, 1934 — July 24, 2020
On Friday July 24, surrounded by his family, George Frederickson of Lawrence, Kansas peacefully returned to his heavenly home.
George Frederickson was born July 17, 1934 in Twin Falls Idaho, the son of Jack and Zelpha Richins Frederickson. As part of a large, loving family, George and all his siblings worked hand-in-hand with their parents to support the family drive-in and Frederickson’s Fine Candy and Ice Cream. The hard work was balanced by lots of fun, and as an Idaho boy through and through, George loved hunting and fishing with his dad and brothers. George had many friends and loved the social aspects of school. According to his mother, he never made a friend he didn’t keep; this would include his best and lifetime friend Clark Whitehead. But initially George did not show too much promise as a scholar, often getting kicked out of class for joking or talking. Teachers frequently sent the unruly boy to the library as punishment. Bored, and desperate for entertainment, he began reading books to pass the time. Exposure to the world of ideas contained in books, intended as punishment, sparked in George a love of learning that changed the course of his life forever.
After two years at BYU, George served a mission in South Africa. Witnessing apartheid influenced George’s worldview and informed his subsequent research on social justice and equity.
After returning to BYU George fell in love with Mary Williams. Mary waited for him to complete his Army training before they were married in the St. George Temple in March 1958. George earned an MPA (UCLA) and PhD (USC). By the time George accepted his first teaching job at the University of Maryland Mary and George had started their family. They headed out to the east coast with their young sons Thomas and Christian, and Lynne was born soon after they arrived in Maryland.
George’s career took the family to New York, where David was born, and then to North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, and Washington state. During these years George took the family on many camping trips, zig-zagging the country from Mt. Katahdin in Maine to the Olympic Peninsula, from the beaches of South Carolina to the mountains of New Mexico.After the children had grown, George and Mary moved to Lawrence Kansas. George loved gathering his family together for holidays and reunions. Family vacations always included model rockets and homemade potato guns.
George and Mary loved theater and travel. They enjoyed trips to New York to see shows and treasured their annual visit to the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Visiting professorships allowed George and Mary to live abroad for a time in Oxford, England and in Shanghai, China.
George held faculty positions at the University of Maryland and Syracuse University, and was the founding Associate Dean of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Dean of the University of Missouri’s School of Community Affairs. George served as President of Eastern Washington State College in Cheney for 10 years. Under George’s leadership, the college transitioned into a thriving regional university, with campuses in Cheney and Spokane. George’s tenure also included the creation of several new schools and many new degrees and programs. George establishing the EWU Foundation and transitioned athletics to the NCAA and membership in the Big Sky conference. Over the years the EWU Eagles’ large fan base has enjoyed much success in athletics. George was especially thrilled to see the Eagles win the 2010 National Football Championship.
George returned to full-time scholarship when he was appointed the Edwin O. Steen Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at the University of Kansas. While at KU George founded the prestigious Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. After retirement George continued to write and visit his office until this year. In 2018 George veered off the academic path to write Hot Tickets, a book about the KU Basketball ticket scandal. Despite increasing health difficulties, he was able to complete and publish the book last year. Over a long and distinguished career, George published hundreds of scholarly articles and dozens of books, but perhaps the professional accomplishment of which he was proudest are the many dozens of scholars around the world who count George as a mentor.
George was preceded in death by his parents Jack and Zelpha Frederickson, his brothers Bryan, Richard and Robert, sister Alice Brown, brother-in-law Larry Shupe, sisters-in-law Virgean and Bernice, stepmother Bonnie, and stepbrother Garey Stimpson. George is survived by his wife Mary, his children Thomas (Leslie), Christian (Jenny), Lynne, and David (Julie), brothers John (Annette), Kent (Sharon), Grant (Valeta), Dennis (Kathy), sister Jean Ann Shupe, sisters-in-law Barbara and Arletta, brother-in-law Lloyd Brown, stepsister Mary Thrall, 15 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
George’s family looks forward to celebrating his life next spring at a memorial service open to all family and friends. The family suggests memorials go to the H. George and Mary Frederickson Fellowship at the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas, or to the EWU Foundation. All memorials may be sent in care of Warren McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.