Frederick Pond Ferré died unexpectedly on March 22, 2013, the day before his 80th birthday, while he and his wife were traveling in northern Germany. Born in 1933, Frederick was raised in Newton, MA, and graduated from Boston University summa cum laude in 1954 with a major in history. He married Marie Booth that year. He earned an MA in philosophy of history from Vanderbilt, and received a PhD in philosophy from St. Andrews University, Scotland in 1959. His widely-influential first book, Language, Logic, and God, published in 1961, used the techniques of analytic philosophy in an appreciative inquiry into the nature of religious meaning.
Frederick taught briefly at Vanderbilt and Mount Holyoke, then from 1962 to 1980 at Dickinson where he led the revitalization of the Philosophy and Religion Department and made important contributions to reforms in faculty governance. During these years his interests broadened to include philosophy of science/technology and environmental studies. He became chair of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Georgia in 1980. In 1982 he married Barbara Meister. At Georgia, he also served as chair of Philosophy, developed an interdisciplinary Environmental Ethics Certificate Program, and was Research Professor of Philosophy from 1988 until his retirement in 1998. Between 1996 and 2001, Frederick published a career-capping trilogy of books, in which he argues for beauty as key to understanding natural processes and our ethical responsibility to foster personal, societal, and planetary good. After a few retirement years in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Frederick and Barbara made Munich their permanent home.
Frederick was an elegantly clear writer and a popular lecturer. He was at the same time an effective teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, combining a well-reasoned insistence on the importance of abstract concepts with a deep commitment to their practical relevance. He developed a number of innovative courses over the years, often in collaboration with others, and he was an active supporter of academic freedom, civic justice, and environmental stewardship. Frederick was a licensed pilot and flight instructor, and a sometime actor. His lifelong involvement as a string bass player in classical, jazz, and popular bands and orchestras gave him a metaphor that he used to summarize his philosophical style: “a bass lays down a foundation, a framework, and it hardly is justified existing alone without implicit reference to the meaningful melodies that it supports and ties together.”
Frederick is survived by his wife, Barbara; his former wife, Marie; a daughter and son-in-law, Kammie and Daniel Anderson; four grandchildren, one great-grandson, and three sisters and brothers-in-law, Mariel and David Dumin, Kerstin and Steve Large, and Faith and Mark Haverland. A memorial service followed by inurnment took place on Apr. 30, 2013, in Munich. A memorial service will be held in Carlisle, in Memorial Hall on the Dickinson College campus, on September 21 at 3 p.m. Barbara Meister-Ferré can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to her at Connollstr.14, 80809 München, Germany.