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Columbia Missourian

James J. Froese, former MU art professor, known for '90 Days of Spring'

By Faith Miller
May 18, 2012 | 3:57 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — James J. Froese, a former MU faculty member, enjoyed sketching, painting and fishing.

Mr. Froese died Thursday, May 17, 2012. He was 75.

“Anyone who knew him knew he could be very contrary,” his daughter-in-law Michelle Froese said. “He was kind of prickly, just as prickly as he could be charming."

He was born Aug. 30, 1936, in Hutchinson, Kan., to Herman and Eva (Dill) Froese.

Mr. Froese earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Kansas City Art Institute, where he served as an apprentice to Thomas Hart Benton and graduated second in his class. He continued his studies at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where he focused on painting and sculpture.

Mr. Froese met Sally Nelson at the Art Institute, and the two married in 1962.

He received a master's degree in fine arts from Wichita State University in 1964 and started teaching at Jacksonville State University in Alabama.

Mr. Froese began working at MU in 1968 as the director of the university's Art Extension Program. He taught art classes, staged exhibits and judged community art shows throughout the state.

He was the recipient of numerous awards including a Ford Foundation Purchase Award (Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art). His work was exhibited alongside work by Salvador Dali in a juried review, and many of his works reside in private collections across the United States.

“He had a lot of students at the university,” Michelle Froese said. “They either loved him or hated him.”

For decades he has been doing “90 Days of Spring,” she said. For the three months before spring, he would sketch every day. Mr. Froese continued sketching until last week, she said.

“He had an artistic temperament,” Michelle Froese said. “He would do things just to get a reaction. One time his neighborhood was going to judge the best lawn. He made an amazing sculpture of a dog out of cow manure.”

Mr. Froese is survived by his wife of 50 years, Sally Nelson Froese; three children, Sarah Froese and her partner, Teresa Shaw, of Harrisburg, Ethan Froese and his wife, Laura, of Columbia, and Aaro Froese and his wife, Michelle, of Columbia; a brother Robert Froese and his wife, Dottie, of Montrose, Colo., a sister, Judy Froese and her partner, Stuart Templeman, of Tulsa, Okla.; and three grandchildren, Nolan Froese of Ashland, Mont., and Skyler and Sophie Froese, both of Columbia.

An art exhibition will be held at a later date to celebrate his work. No services have been planned at this time.

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