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BY ALBERT AMATEAU | Vern Fry, who came to Greenwich Village about 60 years ago to pursue his interests in theater, opera and music, died Mon., March 12, a day after his 84th birthday in the Beth Israel Hospice.
An Emergency Medical Service team took him to New York Downtown Hospital in mid-February, and after a heart attack he was transferred to the intensive care unit at Beth Israel Hospital, said Michael Gast, his friend since the mid-1980s.
A familiar figure in recent years at the Caring Community and Greenwich House senior centers, Vern Fry was an arts administration adviser to various performance groups and a passionate advocate of music education for children.
“In his later years he became fascinated with quantum mechanics and advanced theories in physics and attended several courses at New York University in pursuit of that,” Gast said.
From the mid-1950s until about 1970 he coordinated rehearsals and performance schedules for the famed Children’s Chorus of the Metropolitan Opera Association, according to his résumé found among his effects.
During the same period, he helped coordinate Sol Hurok’s Royal Ballet concerts in the Metropolitan Opera House.
He also worked as a supernumerary in many Metropolitan Opera productions.
“He revered the late American soprano Eleanor Steber, who came from the same town, Wheeling, West Virginia, that I did,” Gast said. “She was a friend of the family, and when he learned of the connection he held me in special regard.”
Doris Diether, another longtime friend, recalled that Vernon would telephone her on Saturday afternoons to make sure she was listening to the opera on WQXR.
He was born Frederick Vernard Frary on March 11, 1928, in Watertown, N.Y., to Henry and Joanna Mallan Frary. He served a stint in the Army and was honorably discharged with the World War II Victory Medal in 1947.
His earliest professional connection was from 1951 to 1960 with the Thousand Island Playhouse, a summer theater in Clayton, N.Y., near Watertown, where he managed a 10-week season. He also managed a touring company that brought a show a month to hotels in the American Hotel chain, according to his résumé.
He earned a master’s degree in theater arts from the University of Denver and pursued management courses of the American Symphony Orchestra League and the Harvard Institute Arts Administration.
A cousin, Luke Mallan, of Watertown, survives. The International Funeral Service of New York in Brooklyn was in charge of arrangements.
“Vern requested that some of his ashes be scattered in the St. Lawrence River, which I will do in May,” Gast said. “I think he would like it if I placed some around the Met, and of course when I go back to West Virginia in June, I’ll put some on Eleanor Steber’s grave, which is near my mother’s,” he added.
A memorial service is being contemplated for later in the spring.