10. Fred E. Fox ’39 Portrait


The collection of Princeton iconography in the Frist Campus Center owes much to the lasting spirit of Frederic E. Fox ’39. Fox earned a degree in biology but always maintained that he “majored in Triangle Club” and minored in Theatre Intime, the Glee Club and the marching band. After careers as a soldier, writer, Congregationalist minister, White House staff assistant, and teacher, Fox became the University’s recording secretary in 1964. Though his official job was to receive 20,000-plus alumni gifts each year, Fox used his post as a means to maintain and educate Princetonians—past and present—about the legends, songs, symbols, artifacts, and people of the University. In 1976, Fox was named the “Keeper of Princetoniana,” giving title to his lifelong support of all matters related to the University. During his tenure, Fox personally taught incoming classes “Old Nassau” during freshmen orientation week, and his office was a shrine to orange and black. He also proudly served as the secretary of his graduating class for 17 years, and insisted that any Princetonian’s name was incomplete without its class numerals. Yet for all of his insistence on the value of traditional Princeton spirit, he fully supported change and evolution within that spirit, including coeducation. Fox described tradition as a river: “Although the course stays the same, the water is always new. If it isn’t, it’s stagnant, and then the tradition becomes a burden.”

When Fox passed away in 1981, University president Bill Bowen *58 described Fred as “irreplaceable” at his memorial service in the University Chapel. “But,” Bowen continued, “he would have been offended, I think, disappointed in us, if we could not, together, sustain the infectious enthusiasm for Princeton that is surely part of his legacy. That is a charge for each of us—not to copy Fred (an effort certain to fail) but in our own ways, within our own capacities, to carry forward his vision of Princeton.” In his first annual report as Keeper of Princetoniana, Fox wrote, “Someday, there will be another Keeper of Princetoniana… As long as there is a Princeton, there will be proud keepers of it.” Shortly after Fox’s death, the Alumni Council formed the Princetoniana Committee to carry on in his spirit. The University Band also plays an annual Fred E. Fox ’39 Memorial Concert on the Saturday morning of Alumni Reunions on Cannon Green.

Fox’s classmate W.C. Bickel ’39 gave this portrait (painted by Bickel’s wife Minetta) to the University to be hung in the Princetoniana Room of Firestone Library shortly after Fox’s death. The painting remained in Firestone even after the Princetoniana Room was relocated in 1990 to Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, where the University archives are stored. Efforts on the part of the Princetoniana Committee, particularly Fox’s friends and classmates Hugh “Bud” Wynne ’39 and Charlie Dennison ’39, to move this portrait to a more public location resulted in its transfer to the 100-level of the Frist Campus Center in the fall of 2003.

  • To learn more about notable Princeton undergraduate alumni, see icon #4 and 5, quotation #3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 33, 36, 37, and 41, and Café Vivian picture #1, 5, 7, 15, 17, 39, 41, 55, 57, 59, 74, 76, 84, 88, 99, 101, 102, 107, 110, and 123.

  • To learn more about the Triangle Club, see icon #4, quotation #1, 22, 36, and 37, and Café Vivian picture #5, 13, 42, 82, 103, 115, and 130.

  • To learn more about the Princeton Band, see icon #11, and Café Vivian picture #98, 103 and 104.

  • To learn more about Princeton traditions, see icon #1, 9, and 11, and Café Vivian picture #9, 12, 23, 24, 86, 97, 112, 116, and 132.

  • To learn more about Princeton Reunions, see icon #11, and Café Vivian picture #54, 67, 112, 119, and 132.

  • To learn more about William Bowen, see Café Vivian picture #125.