In Memory

Shirley Stapleton Fries (LAHS 1949 -)

Shirley Stapleton Fries (LAHS 1949 -)


Left to cherish her memory are her daughter Diane Fries Duffy and her husband Denis; her granddaughters, Debra Duffy Geddes, and husband Gordon Gilbert;  Dionn Duffy Dahl, and husband David; her great grand children Garrett and Grayson Cole; her niece, Karlene C. Reilly; and her nephews, James S. Reilly, Richard M. Reilly, Robert J. Reilly and their families.
Shirley Stapleton Fries was born in New York City, grew up in Connecticut, went to Cornell University, and majored in Classical Latin and Greek.  Her sister Kathleen followed her to Cornell where both returned to class reunions well into their eighties. Kathleen died in January 2002.
Shirley Stapleton married William Robert Fries, a Cornellian and a civil engineer in 1936.  Shortly after Pearl Harbor, her husband was called to active duty with the U S Army Corps of Engineers and was killed in 1944 following Anzio Beachhead on the Road to Rome. She will be interred with him at the National Cemetery in Elmira, New York.

Mrs. Fries taught for a time in Patchogue, Long Island, New York, and then went to teach in Los Alamos, New Mexico, at the original Central School in 1947-48.  The story goes that Dr. Robert Waggoner, then superintendent of the Los Alamos Schools, sent the FBI to find her after meeting her previous superintendent at a convention in New York.
Mrs. Fries continued to teach Latin and English.  She filled her summers with European travel and study abroad, was fortunate enough to become a Fullbright Fellow for study in Rome, and retired from teaching but not from learning in 1983.
One of Mrs. Fries’ greatest honors has been the naming of the Los Alamos High School Alumni Scholarship the Shirley Fries Memorial Scholarship.  It is awarded each year and is certainly a tribute to her quintessential contribution to the lives of so many students throughout the years.  

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04/18/19 04:19 PM #1    

Dennis O'Mara (1963)

Mrs. Fries was the toughest and best teacher I ever had at any level. I regret that I never went back to LAHS and told her that.

09/24/19 12:24 PM #2    

David Allenson (1975)

Shirley was an english teacher that had an INSTANT connection with me as a student. From day 1 in her class she informed the class (much to my embarrassment) that I reminded her of her son. From that moment on I became a TEACHERS PET for her in THAT class. Dana Gish and others would often pull me a side (if the class was not ready for a test) and ask me to try and get Mrs Fries to postpone the test, and she would! This actually happend 3-4 times. It was actually ridiculous! Sadly, she held me to a lower standard than the other students and gave me more grace than I deserved regarding english. Thoughts of her however are of a dear woman that did truly love people, teaching and her students.

05/26/20 12:18 PM #3    

John Humphreys (1966)

The first day of class, sophomore English, Mrs. Fries, looking at the class seating chart, asked me if I were related to Kenneth Humphreys.  I replied yes ma'm, he's my older brother.  She replied, God help us all.  She then asked if I had a motorcycle.  I said, not yet, but I'm looking for a used Harley.  She sat down, took a drink of water, and related the story of my brother, entering D wing on his Harley, driving up the corridor past C, B, and A wing, through the lobby, and out the main doors which were being held open by an accomplice.  He went around the flag pole, up the sidewalk, hung a right on Diamond Drive, and disappeared over the Horizon.  Sorry for the run-on sentences, I know better.  You were firm but fair, but most importantly you were kind.  Thank you, and I have never ignored your advice, never dangle your participial in public.  You were also my brother's favorite teacher.

11/06/21 12:44 PM #4    

Dimas Chavez (1955)

Mrs.Fries was truly one of the classiest ladies not only in the Los Alamos school system, but in Los Alamos.  I can honestlu say that I, among many other male students, had a crush on Shirley Stapleton Fries.  We became much closer after she retired, and we would meet in small gatherings, or class reunions.  Her daughter, Diane, played a huge role in maintaining a close relationship with Ms. Fries which I always appreciated.  I coninue to be in contact with Diane, who spends her summers in Los Alamos as Diane kept her mothers home in Los Alamos.  Thank you Ms. Fries for being part of my life.  Dimas Chavez

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