Patricia Frye
1943 - 2020
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Patricia Dooley Frye
1943-2020
Patricia Dooley Frye
1943 – 2010
She taught music to thousands of children over a 52-year career, and she was Phyllis' best friend.
Patricia was known as Trish to her family, to her close friends, and to the LGBTQ+ community. However, she was known as Pat to her professional teaching colleagues.
Trish passed comfortably on 28 September after a thirteen-month battle with brain cancer. The doctors at Houston Methodist made a brilliant effort to extend her life and made it possible for her to enjoy friends and gatherings for most of her remaining time. Brookdale Hospice helped her make the final journey in comfort and peace.
Trish is survived by Phyllis, her wife of forty-seven years, by Jan Carter, her sister from Castroville, by Bart, Lori and W.D. (Jan's grown children) and by Landon, Camden, Grayson and Vivian (Jan's grandchildren).
Trish's "children" are the thousands of 3rd to 5th graders to whom she taught music in Fort Bend ISD for 35 years plus the thousands of two to five year olds to whom she taught music at a church school in the same area for another 17 years.
What most people missed about Trish was how incredibly brave she was. She dated but did not marry until she was 29 when she found who she really wanted – a recently divorced man named Phil who had been discharged from the Army because he needed to live as a woman. Trish had dated plenty and said of Phil that if that was all that was "wrong" then she would take a chance. Three years following their 1973 marriage, after her spouse had been blackballed from the Houston engineering community for transitioning to become Phyllis, Trish said her spouse had been true to herself and that she would try to hang on. As neighbors and family pressured Trish to ditch her trans-spouse, Trish grew resentful of that pressure and said that she would stay true to her wedding vows. She was labelled a lesbian, which in the 70's was not a positive career move as a teacher in a rural school district.
She and Phyllis struggled with a mortgage, child support and other bills on only a teacher's salary. Even after Phyllis became a lawyer in 1981, she could not get work. For ten years into the later 1980s, the couple struggled to make ends meet, including the drastic action of not running their A/C in Houston.
All the while Trish was afraid she would lose her teaching job if the school figured out that her man was now a woman.
Trish loved teaching. She would spend much of her summers preparing new or revised lesson plans for the next school year. Phyllis suggested several times that Trish save that effort by simply reaching back to what Trish had used four or five years prior. No way. She wanted to constantly improve on what she had taught before.
Every April Trish put on a musical with her choirs. Her choirs were very large because the only criteria to be in the choir was to attend on time and to behave. She excluded NO ONE on their lack of or marginal singing ability.
And she rejoiced when a former student would bring their child to her class.
In addition to the fear of losing her teaching job, until 1980 there was a Houston ordinance that said Phyllis could be arrested simply for being Phyllis. Every day when Trish left for work, she had to endure the stress that when she got home Phyllis might be in jail.
Most of the neighbors and their kids were horrible. Trish and Phyllis cleaned eggs off their garage door, baby poop off the doormat and spray paint graffiti on the driveway. A tire was slashed. At Halloween, they turned off the front porch light lest some kid get bad candy somewhere and they be blamed. On the mornings after, Trish would survey the backyard fences looking to see if poison had been left for the dogs. And she fielded lots of obscene phone calls which just happened to come at Christmas and Easter.
There were a few exceptionally good neighbors, and the neighborhood really settled down after Phyllis became a lawyer and posed a real legal threat. And over the years, the bad neighbors either got over the trans-couple or moved away. As the new century dawned, the couple was prized. They were invited to and attended many civic club functions and parties. Phyllis was even elected to the civic club Board for ten years. Through all of this, Trish bravely endured with grace, dignity, and love.
Into the 1980s and 90s the Fryes would travel to a variety of transgender conventions around the country where Phyllis gave legal workshops and keynotes. Invariably a wife of a crossdressing husband would approach Trish for advice. They did not want to be labelled as lesbian. They complained that they had married a man and not a woman, and of course they were under tremendous social and family pressure, as Trish well understood. Trish did not coddle. "Quit complaining! You either love this person or you don't! Either stay or go! For me, I don't care what people call me: I know who I am. I decided to stay true to my marriage vows and stayed." Trish would not know, but after she passed, Phyllis got emails and texts saying that Trish's role model had saved several marriages.
Things got easier for the couple as Phyllis' law practice took off. Even so, Trish always feared being fired from the teaching career that she loved or being ridiculed by former teacher colleagues.
Last June the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act employment protections on the basis of sex were extended to both sexual orientation and gender identity. Even though Phyllis now had her own law firm and was also an Associate Judge, 44 years after she had been blackballed in 1976, she could no longer be fired. And although Trish had retired after those fifty-two years of teaching music to kids, she could no longer be fired either. Trish got a chuckle of satisfaction out of that!
In September 2019, Trish was diagnosed with glioblastoma. After surgery she was told that she might make it to the end of 2019. Phyllis, who was dealing with her own cancer for the past ten years, could not deal with both of their cancers plus the house and the yard, etc.; so, they put their house where they had lived and loved for 46 years up for sale. In January they moved to a senior living facility in the West University area of Houston. Trish bravely made it through the New Year and then to her and Phyllis' 47th anniversary in June, and then to her 77th birthday in August. But she was running out of time and passed one month later … courageous and loving to the very end.
There will be no service as both Trish and Phyllis are nonbelievers and also because such a gathering could be a super spreader event. Instead, in August 2021, there will be a celebration of life for Trish on her 78th birthday.
In lieu of flowers, please donate in her name to either the VictoryFund.org or the Biden-Harris campaign.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Oct. 4, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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29 entries
October 16, 2020
Trish was an amazing woman. She possessed an inner strength that was apparent from the first time I met her. My heart goes out to Phyllis in this difficult time. May her memory be a blessing.
Jessica Wicks
Friend
October 15, 2020
I’ve never met a more friendly face and soul in my life and I just feel lucky I had a chance to meet her. You are for always a star Trish! I’m deeply sorry for your loss Phyllis
Martijn Hoffmans
Friend
October 14, 2020
Today in the Houston Chronicle I just read about Pat Frye’s passing. Pat was a delight to be around - always cheerful! She was an inspirational music teacher and mentor to me when I first joined Fort Bend to teach music at Palmer Elementary while she was at Colony Bend. Through the years we would run into each other at music teacher conventions. I had no idea about the hardship she endured all in the name of love. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her. I loved her sweet smile and positive attitude and am sad she is no longer with us. I will keep her in my prayers. RIP Pat!
Julie Sykes
Coworker
October 14, 2020
Hello Phyllis I was sorry to hear about Trish. You and Trish welcome me in your home
Michelle Tellison
Michelle Tellison
Friend
October 13, 2020
A grove of 100 trees will be planted in memory of beloved Trish, who always loved and believed in us.
Jennifer Levi, Kylar Broadus, Shannon Minter, and Paisley Currah
Friend
October 12, 2020
Grove of 100 Memorial Trees
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Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Paisley Currah
October 11, 2020
Trish was A silent giant. Her presence demanded your undivided attention. You could not help but to love her. We will love and miss you Trish Frye!
Jeanette Wright
Friend
October 11, 2020
I had the pleasure of working alongside Trish Frye. She was always a class act teacher cut from the utmost in professionalism. I’m honored to have known this lady. I admire her brevity and what she stood for. This is what a life looks like. Well done.
Ken Mize
Coworker
October 8, 2020
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
Stan & Lynn Waghalter
Classmate
October 8, 2020
Dear Phyllis, I am so deeply sorry for your tremendous loss. I remember meeting Trish at various Lavender Law conferences over the last 15+ years. Her presence was strong, supportive, proud, loving. She modeled what it means to be a life partner to someone, particularly for us trans folks. She helped me raise my own standards for finding love in my life. Thank you for sharing your Trish with the larger LGBT legal family. You are in my thoughts and if there is anything I can do to ease your pain or support you, it would be an honor. Love to you, Grandmother of the Trans Rights Movement.
Dru Levasseur
Friend
October 7, 2020
Mrs. Frye was my music teacher at Colony Bend and instilled in me a love of folk songs and singing for fun. Decades later, I had the opportunity to work down the hall from her classroom at the preschool, and I got to hear her sweet voice and joyful interaction with kids all day long. What a gift she was!
Kate Flint
Student
October 6, 2020
Many of those songs, her smile, and the daily greeting are firmly etched in my mind, as are the fundamentals of music that she taught us. To hear of the battles she fought beneath her sweet demeanor - she was more remarkable than any of us knew. Thank you Mrs. Frye!
Aaron Senseman
Student
October 6, 2020
Group of 10 Memorial Trees
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Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Dennis Nance
October 6, 2020
Mrs. Frye was a big part of who I am today.

I was in the class of 2000 at Colony Bend Elementary School. I admired her so much for her kind heart and joyous energy and even more so now! She has definitely crossed my mind from time to time throughout these 20+ years with the most recent time being just a few days ago. I thank her and her family for their inspirational bravery. Knowing what I know now, I respect her even more.

Thank you, Mrs. Frye. You will be missed.
Kimberly Ong
Student
October 6, 2020
I will remember her for the being the best music teacher ever! To this day I can remember how she greeted us each day in song! I learned a lot from her teachings! And very heartbroken of her passing. I will never forget her!
She will be the one ahead of the class of angels up in heaven.
Darlene Mikeska
Student
October 6, 2020
I met Pat in 1975 through the Houston Orff Music chapter. She had such a welcoming way about her. We attended a week long work shop in Nacogdoches together and I still remember our laughter. I joined Fort Bend I.S.D. in 1989. Pat became a mentor to me, aways willing to share ideas, props, costumes, instruments, and time. I have a file folder labeled "PAT" filled with treasures that she shared. I remember that her notes were always so precise and easy to read. Everything she did was to perfection. Pat set the bar on elementary musical performances. I know her students have treasured memories of those experiences. I also remember that Pat never seemed to age. She was forever young. I am heart sick to realize the pain she and Phyllis had to endure for so many years and that I somehow could have eased that burden. Pat will always have a place in my heart for the gentle excitement she was so generous to share.
Evelyn Smith
Coworker
October 5, 2020
Mrs. Frye was my elementary music teacher at Colony Bend in Sugar Land from 1997-2000. As saddened as I am to learn of her passing, I'm even more shocked to learn the rich history of her personal life while reading the obituary. I've just acquired an unbelievable amount of new respect for her as human being that will forever change how I remember her.

Prior to learning about her passing, I would have told you that I have numerous fond memories, not only of Mrs. Frye and music class, but particularly of choir and the school plays in 4th and 5th grade. I ended up going on to study music in college. My brain is like a Spotify that always has a song playing in the background almost 24/7 as I go about my day. To this day, occasionally, I will still realize spontaneously that a tune from Mrs. Frye's music class or choir is playing in the back of my head for no apparent reason. They're ingrained into my musical memory with very fond memories.

My thoughts and condolences go out to all of her friends and family.
Alex Simon
Student
October 5, 2020
I knew Trish as Ms. Frye, my elementary music teacher and choir leader. Never realized at that time how many lasting memories she would give us to cherish, but they're are still there after all these years in great detail. I'll never forget you.

You will be missed and remembered by many more than you ever would have imagined. Thanks for all the giving you gave, and please rest in peace until we sing again.
Jeff Ericsson
Student
October 4, 2020
Trish was/is/will always be lovely. She was the most welcoming and interested hostess. So strong and such a support to us in Phyllis' guitar circle. Our good thoughts go to Phyllis and Trish's loved ones.
Dan Northcutt
Friend
October 4, 2020
Dear Phyllis, Eva and I are so sorry for your loss. I know how deeply and passionately you loved Patricia. This must be a truly awful time for you. We hope her memory will, in time, put a smile on your face when you remember all the good times in your 47 years together.
Mike Engelhart
Friend
October 4, 2020
I truly adored Pat. We are both SHSU alumni and had teachers and friends in common. She taught for me at my early childhood studio for a couple of summers several years ago. She was a brilliant teacher and Pat was one of the sweetest people any of us will ever know. We ended up teaching at neighboring Methodist day schools and shared ideas. I have a whole file with her name on it as she was generous, as well as, creative. I wish I had known of the struggles, the early ones & the later, but she was very private about her personal life. I understand now but Phyllis, I would have gladly scrubbed off eggs & paint I am SO sorry for the loss of your precious wife, one who was loved by so many. Condolences to her family and friends.
Judy Farley
Friend
October 4, 2020
What a remarkable life story for both of you! I am sorry I've never met either of you, and want to thank you for your candor and for sharing such a fascinating life with the rest of us.
Nancy Etheridge
October 4, 2020
I truly adored Pat. We are both SHSU alumni and had teachers and friends in common. She taught for me at my early childhood studio for a couple of summers several years ago. She was a brilliant teacher and Pat was one of the sweetest people any of us will ever know. We ended up teaching at neighboring Methodist day schools and shared ideas. I have a whole file with her name on it as she was generous, as well as, creative. I wish I had known of the struggles, the early ones & the later, but she was very private about her personal life. I understand now but Phyllis, I would have gladly scrubbed off eggs & paint I am SO sorry for the loss of your precious wife.
Judy Farley
Friend
October 4, 2020
Grove of 100 Memorial Trees
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Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Becky Neese
October 4, 2020
Oh, Phyllis, I'm so deeply sorry to hear this. Y'all's love story has been an inspiration to me, and so many! Love you lots, GF. - Debra
Debra Danburg
Friend
October 4, 2020
I knew this amazing woman as Pat. She taught my two children when they were in elementary school and I then had the pleasure of her teaching my grandchildren when she came to worse k at the church school when I convinced her she would be amazing. She exceeded our hopes as a teacher for 17 years and truly enriched the lives of so many children and every family she served. She will be missed and our sincere and heartfelt sympathies to Phyllis and Trish’s extended family.
Becky Neese
Coworker
October 4, 2020
Trish was one of the sweetest people I have ever met. It was always special to run into she & Phyllis. She was very warm and genuine in her conversation.
Vickie McClanahan
Friend
October 3, 2020
As kind and courageous as they come--she may not have been big in stature, but she had the the heartiest of laughs, and when I think back to the many memories I have of Trish Frye, it's that laugh of hers that helps me get through the tears of knowing she's no longer with us physically. She'll always be with us in our hearts, however, as will her adoring and incredibly adored Phyllis.
John Nechman
Friend
October 3, 2020
A generous, quiet, and formidable woman -- with a welcoming smile. I send my love to Phyllis and all who mourn Trish's death.
Michael Long
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