Memories of Fred Exoo
When I interviewed at SLU, I took a class with Fred and it was in talking to him that I decided to attend. His compassion and personality made me feel welcome.
As a government major and theater arts minor, I took a lot of classes from both Fred and Diane. So much so that my degree should have been in “Exoo.” I am so grateful that our relationship transcended my four years in Canton. I have much to say about the way Fred impacted me but I am moved to comment on the sustained and unrelenting grief he was experiencing since Diane‘s passing. His grief diaries were a window into pain and loss he experienced. I was so sorry for his constant pain. I hope and pray he is reunited with Diane and they are once again walking through grassy fields hand-in-hand. Rest well Fred.
Scott O'Connell '87
I will always remember Fred fondly because he was one of my first mentors at St. Lawrence outside the Psychology Department. I was hired to teach a "service learning" course, and Fred offered his support, both tangible and intangible, in my efforts to cultivate community partnerships and develop a meaningful educational experience for my students. I still have notes in my "placements" file from those early meetings with Fred.
I will never forget the "Starbucks Dialogues", when Fred, Ron Flores, myself and a couple of others (I think Richard Jenseth was there, too) sat around a Starbucks during an afternoon break at a service learning conference and made the decision that from then on this type of pedagogy would no longer be called service learning at SLU but "community-based learning" (CBL) to emphasize the reciprocal nature of our relationship with our community partners. That philosophical and practical conversation has impacted my CBL work ever since. One aspect of the "Starbucks Dialogues" I remember very well is that, despite being 20 years my senior at SLU, Fred never treated me as anything but an equal collaborator in the work. He made clear that he believed my voice was as important as his in shaping the future of the CBL program.
Finally, my fondest memory of Fred was the morning he picked me up to drive to Syracuse to catch a flight to a CBL conference. It was the first time I was to leave my daughter, who was about 9 months at the time. I got into his car and burst into tears. In his sweet and empathetic way, Fred told me the story of the first time he was parted from one of his sons and the heartbreak he felt. Very soon, he had me laughing and smiling with that unique sense of humor that Fred brought to all he did. We will miss you, Fred.
Cathy Crosby, Psychology
Fred was a wonderful colleague, mentor and friend and I loved any chance we had to work together. He was such a force for good and had a huge heart. I remember being so delighted and touched when he took me out to lunch to celebrate my tenure and everything we talked about. I'll miss you, Fred.
Erin McCarthy, Philosophy
Fred was such a wonderful colleague and such a force for good in the world. He was kind and compassionate to everyone he met, and he and Diane were always working to help those who most needed it. He was also an outstanding teacher and mentor to his students. He shared a 50-year romance with his beautiful wife Diane, and he missed her so. I am so grateful to have known Fred and Diane, and so grateful for all that he gave to St. Lawrence, this community, and our students. We will miss him so.
Patti Frazer Lock, Dept. of Math, CS and Stat
I wouldn’t have navigated St. Lawrence as well without the help and kindness of Dr. Exoo. He had such a big impact on my college career and for that I will forever be indebted to him. This is a tremendous loss for the SLU community.
Tink McCartin '13
Some of the wonderful friends I've made here know how far I can sometimes go in the realm of writing when I care about something, so I'll do my best to state only the mandatory.
As the traditional notion goes, first impressions count, and Fred certainly did not disappoint. In spring of 2021, I was still rolling through the government major and sought out a course of the limited summer options. I didn't have the prerequisite required at the time and the class later ran out of seats. After a basic email engagement, he had no issue with it and happily added me on. The summer semester was quite brilliant for many reasons and without question, Fred was one of them (as well as the people of that class).
Whether it was Zoom or in person, I found Fred to be unmatched in his ability to understand my jokes (let it be known other faculty still have a year to match this feat), which eventually produced the reward of his rendition of Ozzy, a thrill for SLU's premier heavy metal fan. The real headbanger's ball though was how the course danced gracefully with American politics, and that Fred achieved the enviable marker of making learning fun without even trying too hard to make it so. Even better, we had the spiritual satisfaction of creating what turned out to be my best academic performance in the government major that summer. Whether he knew that or not by the time I eventually finished the major, I'm honored that was the case.
I think my point at the end is that while I've known Fred for the shortest amount of time (as I never saw him again after that summer), he still managed to have a profound impact on my college career. I also truly mean it when I say Fred and his magic are one of the greatest academic officials in my entire academic career. I rest assured that you too have secured the blessings of liberty in your lifetime. And of course, many years from now, I'll save a joke for you.
Abrar Shah '23
Fred, I am so glad I got to tell you when we last saw each other a month or so ago that you were one of my favorite SLU professors. I am sure I learnt a lot in your classes, but what I remember is your kindness, sense of humor and the fun we had. I mean who offers Sergi's pizza during a final exam? Highlight of senior week was being invited to your home for a nice meal. Thank you for being there for me and countless others. You are missed and I hope you have found peace that you were looking for... My sincerest condolences to your family and friends.
Tsewang, SLU '10 & '15
I was very sorry to learn of Fred's passing. He taught me in U.S. Government 101 in the Fall of 1981, my first semester at SLU. He was a passionate and dedicated teacher, and I learned a lot about American politics, and how to think about it, that I did not know before then. Many years later, I connected with Fred on Facebook and we bonded over my teaching at a college in the same city, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he had been an undergraduate many years before. He was very supportive and encouraging of my work as a professor, and I very much appreciated his generosity in that regard. My deep condolences to his family and many friends, at SLU and beyond.
Jason K. Duncan '85
So saddened by Fred's passing. I shared many wonderful sets of tennis with Fred and my father, Douglas Angus, during and after my time as a SLU student. As fellow writers, we also shared conversations about our work. He was such a positive and upbeat influence on everyone around him. Fred and Diane were a dynamic and loving couple. It is hard to absorb them being gone far too soon. My deep condolences to their sons.
Chris Angus '72
I took a course from Professor Exoo, and I also worked as his TA. His intelligence and enthusiasm came through even on the dreariest days. As a boss, he knew how to criticize gently and smilingly, but firmly.
I remember working with him in a voter registration drive in the Congressional campaign of Professor Bernard Lammers. Professor Lammers never had a chance, and we all knew that at some level, but Professor Exoo pushed forward with his usual enthusiasm and determination. He was a good scholar and teacher, and a good man.
Matt Nothnagle '85, P'24
I had the good Dr. in the fall of '78, his first year. He had that Doug Henning (the magician) hair and mustache at the time. On the first day of class that fall, someone in Sykes was cranking the Cars song "Just What I Needed." I can remember, clear as day, him pausing in the lecture and saying: Hmmmm...sounds like a great sound system." He was leaving that afternoon to head back to Wisconsin to defend his doctoral work. Clearly he pulled it off. We corresponded many times over the years, with me sharing my attempts at scholarly articles about design, development and taxation. He was always very kind and complimentary, and that, of course, was very much appreciated. Read his books. You will learn something and enjoy them as well.
Rob Bick '81, AIA
I shared this remembrance at the Memorial Service/Celebration of Life for Fred Exoo on September 9, 2022 in SLU’s Gunnison Chapel:
As described in President Morris’ memo announcing his passing in July, Fred Exoo was an impressive and influential teacher and scholar – and a mover-and-shaker for advancing the mission of this university to the benefit of its faculty, staff and students. Indeed, Fred enjoyed an outstanding career, yet he remained humble. During his moving and memorable retirement comments at the last faculty meeting of Spring 2018 – some of you were there – you will recall that he poetically weaved in the lyrics of the Tom Waits song, “Take it with me (when I go),” as he gracefully thanked his colleagues. Always eloquent, sometimes even mesmerizing, Fred, when he spoke, had a way of drawing you in and transporting you. By the end of his retirement comments, I believe everyone in the audience was thinking, “Fred, please don’t go!”
Fred possessed a rare quality as an individual, with understated insight, tenderness, and vulnerability. He was fierce in a quiet way, unlike his wife, Diane, who was fierce in an in-your-face kind of way – and I loved that about her. Stunningly beautiful – physically, intellectually, and dare I say, morally, they always fought for justice and encouraged hope, even when “things” looked bleak. Fred and Diane were amazing as unique individuals, but together, they were like a dynamic superhero duo. There was so much to admire, yet they were not perfect, but deeply human, which is so much better than perfect. Fred suffered greatly following Diane’s passing in 2020. Heartbreaking entries in his grief dairy provided a glimpse into the unbearable grief he endured. I hope they have found each other and are together – and at peace.
I wish neither of them had to go. My only consolation is that Fred and Diane’s passion, brilliance and humanity are instilled and reflected in their equally amazing sons, Christian and Josh, to whom I extend my deepest sympathy – and whom I love as I loved their parents.
Proud to call Fred and Diane my friends and colleagues, I know I am a better person for having known them. I am wearing this silver bracelet of Diane’s; I acquired it when Fred invited some of her close friends over to select some of her things for remembrance. Fred called it a “second-life” party. Only recently, however, I noticed the engraving inside, which reads: “Remember your power. Don’t give it away.” A sentiment in which both Fred and Diane strongly believed. So like the Tom Wait’s lyrics go: There ain't no good thing ever dies; I'm gonna take it with me when I go.
Loraina Ghiraldi, Psychology Department
Professor Exoo wasn't only an educator, counselor and mentor, I am truly blessed to have considered him a friend. He was a constant positive presence in my life for 4 years in Canton and continued to support me with recommendation letters and advice even after graduation. I am incredibly lucky to have crossed paths with this extraordinary human being in one of my favorite places on planet Earth.
JP Cambareri '06