John Anstey ’93 remembers meeting Carl “Coby” B. Frye ’93 on the first day of their freshman year at Mary Washington.
“His infectious laugh and broad smile immediately put me at ease,” John says. The pair, who lived a few doors down from each other in Westmoreland Hall and later roomed together, became inseparable. “And that friendship carried us through our time at Mary Washington and into adulthood.”
After Coby died unexpectedly in spring of 2019, John decided to channel his grief into something meaningful. He and his wife, Kara Lee Matala ’94, established the endowed Carl B. Frye Jr. ’93 Scholarship for University of Mary Washington students who embody Coby’s positive, “can-do” attitude. In addition, the couple raised funds, along with six of their classmates, to memorialize their friend by naming a bench for him on Campus Walk, a place where they made so many memories together as students.
“Coby had a big personality, and that’s what everyone loved about him,” says John, recalling that his friend “was the only person besides my dad who called me ‘Big John,’ another thing that drew me to him.”
At Mary Washington, the friends grew close, bench sitting, watching movies in Dodd Auditorium, double dating in downtown Fredericksburg and tubing on the Rappahannock. They experienced many college firsts together – parties, exams, broken hearts, job offers – and supported each other through it all.
Coby encouraged John to run for Honor Council president, which he won. John, an English major, edited and proofread Coby’s business term papers, once pulling an all-nighter to help him with a challenging assignment.
Then, there was the time that Coby was cut from the Mary Washington baseball team. In his remarks at the bench dedication last September, John shared how Coby returned to their room with a frown on his face, dragging his blue equipment bag behind him.
“But, in classic Coby fashion, he didn’t stay down for long,” John says. Coby picked up a lacrosse stick, taught himself a new sport, and became a star player on the team. “If there was an obstacle, he’d always find his way around it.”
After graduation, the friends moved far apart but continued to cheer each other on through all of life’s milestones: graduate school, weddings, promotions, business ventures and the births of their children. When John’s father was diagnosed with dementia, Coby frequently checked in. And Coby, the eldest of four children, even helped put two of his younger siblings through Mary Washington. “That’s just the kind of person he was,” John says.
So, when John and Kara learned that Coby had passed away, they wanted a way to celebrate the life of someone who was always there for those he loved.
“Setting up the scholarship at Mary Washington gave us a chance to reflect on all of Coby’s wonderful qualities and helped us in the healing process,” Kara says. “This has been a great way to remember him and benefit future UMW students.”
As for John, he hopes the scholarship’s recipients will be inspired by Coby’s supportive spirit.
“Our ultimate goal is to move his legacy forward here at Mary Washington,” he says. “It’s the kind of place that fosters friendships like ours.”
For information about naming opportunities at the University of Mary Washington, please contact the Office of University Advancement at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-654-1024.
– Article written by Assistant Director of Advancement Communications Jill Laiacona