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Point Loma physician to get 2020 Mr. San Diego title

Retired physican Frederick Frye, 85, is pictured in 2015 with his great-granddaughter, Annabelle Mooney.
(Courtesy)

Dr. Frederick Frye, 85, is being honored by a selection committee of 26 past presidents of the San Diego Rotary Club for his leadership in several civic groups and activities that have helped shape San Diego.

A Point Loma pediatrician with a history of community involvement will be named this year’s Mr. San Diego.

Dr. Frederick Frye learned recently that a selection committee of 26 past presidents of the San Diego Rotary Club is honoring him for his leadership in several civic groups and activities that have helped shape San Diego.

The title has been awarded annually for the past 68 years to a San Diego man, woman or couple, except for 1975. The honor was started by a varied group of civic leaders in 1952. As the founders aged, in 1975 they asked the San Diego Rotary Club to take over the process, which is open to nominations from throughout the region.

Frye, 85, who spent 30 years in private practice, served as president of the San Diego County Medical Society, chairman of the San Diego Zoological Society and commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club and the San Diego Association of Yacht Clubs.

He was active on the boards of the San Diego Historical Society, Maritime Museum and Fleet Science Center.

This year’s selection took some unusual turns. First, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the Nov. 19 recognition ceremony into a virtual one. Second, Frye, having been a Rotary Club president, is on the selection committee and has overseen the process the past eight years.

When his nomination came in from businesswoman Patti Roscoe, who was named Mrs. San Diego in 2018, committee members had to meet without Frye’s knowledge.

“The past presidents were very sneaky,” Frye said. “They invited me to a Zoom call and said, ‘We’re going to discuss Mr. San Diego.’ The conversation started out, ‘Well, we’ve selected Mr. San Diego — and it’s you!’”

“I was so surprised. I was totally overwhelmed,” Frye said. “I never, ever thought this would happen. It’s not something I sought. It is such a great honor.”

When Frye joined the committee’s Zoom call, he was wearing pajamas, noted participant George Gildred. Frye later said he wondered why his wife, Joy, who was in on the surprise, had tried to get him to put on a Hawaiian shirt for the online video conference.

“Initially he was at a loss of words, which is rare for him,” said Rotary Executive Director Paul Devermann. “He is very humble and very grateful.”

Local Make-A-Wish Foundation Chief Executive Christopher Sichel, the club’s president, described Frye as “a gentle giant who always highlights the good works of others. It’s never about him, always about others.”

In the late 1960s, Frye helped start an outpatient clinic and a genetics clinic at Children’s Hospital. In the early ‘70s, through what is now known as California Children’s Services, he set up an amputee clinic and directed cleft palate and cerebral palsy clinics. Many of his patients were Mexican-American, prompting Frye to speak Spanish so “the kids wouldn’t be afraid to come to the doctor.”

After retiring from daily practice, Frye joined Aetna International as a global medical director involved in its services to countries in Latin America as well as in Southeast Asia, India and New Zealand.

In his spare time, Frye often raced sailboats. He won the Transpac race to Hawaii in his boat class in 1997. When the United States won the America’s Cup from the Australians in 1987, Frye was commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club and accepted the trophy in Perth.

Joy, his wife of 65 years, said he ran a segment of the cross-country Olympic torch relay twice, for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

A link to the virtual 2020 Mr. San Diego event will be posted on the San Diego Rotary Club website, sandiegorotary.club.


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