CHAMPAIGN — Donald E. Frith, 96, of Goleta, Calif., died Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.
Don was born in Denver on Sept. 16, 1924, to Eugene Fletcher Frith and Jennetta Joslin Harrah. A WWII veteran, Don served in the U.S. Navy as a seabee in the South Pacific.
Don met Barbara Tepfer at Denver University, and they married in 1949. They moved to San Bernardino, Calif., and set up lives as teachers and artists. Three years later, Don became an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, and they moved to Champaign-Urbana, where they raised a family of four children.
Don was one of the leaders of the U.S. Crafts movement that started after WWII. He received his BFA in 1949 and MA in 1952 from Denver University and MFA from Alfred University in 1966. At the UI School of Art and Design, he started the ceramics, metals and glass programs and was chair of the Crafts Program. He was a founding member of the Illinois Crafts Council and the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. He was also a member of the American Crafts Council and American Ceramic Society.
In his capacity as a product designer for three pottery companies, Don designed many items that were nationally distributed. He served five consulting assignments in foreign countries for the International Executive Service Corps as a design and production expert. In 1985, Don wrote the book "Mold Making for Ceramics," the definitive reference worldwide on mold making.
When Professor Don Frith retired in 1989, he and Barbara moved to Santa Maria, Calif., and created their professional art studio. Don specialized in and produced almost a thousand exquisitely designed and beautifully crafted ceramic teapots that were exhibited and sold in many fine art galleries.
Don was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara, in 2007.
He is survived by his four children, Eugenia Meltzer, Martin Frith, Johanna Sholder and Juliet Frith; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandson.
Don was loved, admired and respected, and he will be deeply missed.