Rebels coach, Tom Fry, dies at 52

Longtime Flintridge Prep teacher and assistant football coach died at brother’s La Cañada home after a long battle with brain cancer; Brother says Prep, ‘was his life.’

October 24, 2009|By Charles Rich

GLENDALE — Tom Fry, a longtime staple in the Flintridge Prep community as a coach and teacher, who was revered by colleagues and his family, lost a seven-month battle with a malignant brain tumor Wednesday night. He was 52.

Fry, a 1975 Crescenta Valley High and 1979 Occidental College graduate, died at his brother’s home in La Cañada Flintridge. He had taught history and served as an assistant football coach after joining Flintridge Prep in 1990.

Fry, who was active in numerous sporting and academic events at Flintridge Prep, was diagnosed with a tumor in late March before undergoing surgery in early April at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Rick Fry, one of Tom’s two older brothers, said.


“Flintridge Prep was his life and passion,” Rick Fry said. “Within that, the students and alumni were like his second family.

“He wasn’t married and didn’t have children, but the students were very much like his children. His legacy will live on with Flintridge Prep because he had an impact on so many lives.”

Fry was a defensive coordinator for many seasons at Flintridge Prep, where he was also the school’s webmaster and was a game announcer for the athletic department.

Flintridge Prep Athletic Director Alex Rivera said the school planned to hold a pep rally Friday with part of it honoring Fry.

The Rebels will take part in a Prep League game against chief rival Pasadena Poly at 7 p.m. today at La Cañada High. A moment of silence will be held prior to the contest.

“If there was something going on [with the school], he would be there,” Rivera said. “He was real versatile and he took on things with a great deal of pride.

“He was very opinionated about things, but he would support you 100% in the end.”

Former Flintridge Prep football Coach Glenn Beattie brought Fry on board to be the team’s defensive coordinator after Fry coached the school’s junior varsity team in 1990.

Beattie said Fry always had ideas on improving the defense.

“With Tom, he acted like your co-coach,” Beattie said. “He would come up with these different ideas and worked them through.

“There were times when we had some arguments. Then you would come back the next day, and he was Tom again. At the end of the day, we were really good friends. He always said that if you can take care of the little things then the big things will take care of themselves.”

Current Flintridge Prep football Coach Perry Skaggs said Fry will be missed on and off the field. Fry served as a defensive coordinator under Skaggs when he took over the program in 2007.

“He was a unique guy who loved to argue or debate,” Skaggs said. “He made us better.

“One of the important things that I did when I became the head coach was making him our defensive coordinator. He made a huge difference for us on the field. Not only was he an outstanding human being, but just the way he was able to interact made him special.”

Fry was a member of the coaching staff when the Rebels last won a CIF title in 2003. He continued assisting the Rebels this season.

Fry is survived by his brothers Rick and Charlie, sister-in-laws Stephanie Fry and Karen Fry, four nieces and two nephews.

Services are pending.

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