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Lewis A. Fretz ’60

Published in Mar. 22, 2000, issue

Lew Fretz died from cancer on Apr. 26, 1999. At the time of his death, Lew was a professor and senior lecturer in American politics and international relations at the U. of Waikato, in Hamilton, New Zealand. At a retirement ceremony just days before his death, Lew entered the room, shook hands and embraced his distraught friends, colleagues, and students, telling them, "Don't look glum, I'm a happy man!" The university presented Lew with a staff citation that recognized his excellence in teaching and his promotion of the highest standards of academic endeavor.

Lew came to Princeton after attending high school in Harrisburg, Pa. He majored in history and earned a Danforth Fellowship upon graduation. After receiving a PhD from Stanford, Lew taught at California and New Hampshire colleges. Lew was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and later became a vocal critic of American involvement in Vietnam. His strong anti-war feelings led Lew to leave the US in 1971, vowing never to return. Lew, however, remained fascinated by American politics and culture, and his teaching reflected this interest. Because of this, TV and radio reporters often asked Lew to comment on current events in the US.

Over the years, Lew gained a reputation as an enormously popular teacher. Throngs of students, many of whom were not enrolled in his courses, regularly lined the walls to hear his lectures. One former student described Lew as a great teacher, because he changed the lives of his students. Lew's strong sense of social justice propelled him to become involved in many causes, generally on the side of the underdog. Lew was described as a "rebel with a passion" who will be missed by his wife, Margaret, his daughter, Tanya, his sister, Tory, as well as students, colleagues, and friends. The U. of Waikato has established a scholarship in Lew's memory.

The Class of 1960

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