John W. Frymoyer, M.D.
Surrounded by his loving family, John W. Frymoyer spent the afternoon outside under a beautiful, sunny New England blue sky, before quietly passing away that evening on August 2nd at the age of 83.
John/Dad/Poohbah/Fry/Doc/Dean lived life fully - laughing loudly, entertaining often and pursuing his interests with passion. He relished making connections with people, whether personally or professionally. He had a knack for sharing stories and getting others to share theirs.
The son of W.W. and Elizabeth Frymoyer, John was born on November 17, 1937, and along with his siblings Mary and Bill, was raised in Foxborough, MA. A defining moment of his earlier years was his time spent as a "hut boy" at AMC Madison Spring Hut in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As he said, "It was here that I became a man."
A hopeless romantic, John met the love of his life, Nan, on a blind date and they married on June 20, 1959, sharing 51 years of joy and adventure, forever each other's champion, until Nan's death in 2010. Together they raised four daughters - Susan Hodge, Lynn Boynton, Meg Stebbins and Betsey Rhynhart – in a home full of fun times and crazy traditions. Their sabbatical year in Oxford, England embodied the family spirit of embracing new experiences and travel. He delighted in bantering with his four sons-in-laws, Mitchell Hodge, Mel Boynton, Peter Stebbins and Kurt Rhynhart, and teaching his eleven grandchildren, Jordan Hodge, John Michael Hodge, Miguel Hodge, Chandler Boynton, Kane Boynton, Ellie Boynton, Emily Stebbins, Sarah Stebbins, Pieter Rhynhart, Will Rhynhart and Maddy Rhynhart , the infamous Poohbah foot wedge in golf. In a surprise turn, at 80 he fell head over heels in love with Gail Poler, a longtime friend, and the two of them shared a magical life at her farm in Grafton, MA these last few years.
John was a lifelong learner. Educated at Deerfield Academy, Amherst College, and an honors graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, he did his residency at the University of Vermont, first in Medicine and then in Orthopaedic Surgery.
Professionally, John achieved the very best as a spine surgeon and the Frymoyer name remains relevant in the field today. He led important research into the understanding and care of the lumbar spine, and fostered the development of bioengineering in relation to orthopaedics. He published more than 100 journal articles and several books, including The Adult Spine, a key reference work, and was the founding editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. John became a full professor and served as Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation for many years. Later, he was appointed Dean of the UVM Medical College from 1990-2000. Notably, in all his efforts as Dean, he championed the development of caring, compassionate, innovative physicians and inter-disciplinary medical teams. Prior to his deanship, he served as Chief Executive Officer of University Health Center. He was a leader of the merger effort that created Fletcher Allen Health Care - known today as the UVM Medical Center – and was named its first CEO in 1995. Above all, John was a mentor, teacher and inspiration to many; he never failed to make time to meet and talk with those that sought his advice. Even after retiring, it was not unheard of to find him on the phone with a medical resident from decades earlier.
John could often be found in his woodworking shop, honing carpentry skills learned from his father. Over the years, he built his own house on Lake Champlain and completed numerous home renovations for family and friends. Every grandchild received a Poohbah-designed wooden high chair and rocking chair. John frequently gave back to the community by building and was particularly proud of his work at the King Street Youth Center. An accomplished organist, he played nightly with Nan singing by his side, and during the holidays loved gathering family and friends around; the singing of Christmas carols was always a highlight! An avid historian, in recent years John ensured the family history and stories were captured in self published books. Rounds of golf with friends and family provided an eager audience for his bad jokes.
The family is deeply appreciative for the exemplary care given by the medical team at Concord Hospital in New Hampshire. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorial contributions be made in the name of Dr. John Frymoyer, to support the Concord Hospital Smoking Cessation Clinic and the Urologic Institute OR to the Nan Pilcher Frymoyer Nursing Scholarship. Contributions can be mailed to Concord Hospital Trust, 250 Pleasant St, Concord, NH 03301 or made online at ch-trust.org
OR to The University of Vermont Foundation, 411 Main St, Burlington, VT 05401 or online at uvmfoundation.org.
A memorial service is planned for July 2022 at the Shelburne Methodist Church in Shelburne, VT.
Published by Cremation Society of New Hampshire - Manchester on Aug. 18, 2021.