The library at RVU was envisioned by, directed by, and eventually named for Dr. Frank Ritchel Ames. I started at RVU on June 10, 2008. Frank was the veteran of the department – he started on June 9. He was a scholar- two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. attest to that. He was a mentor – hardly anyone who worked here back then can claim not to have been altered in some way by Frank. He was a humanitarian – devising and establishing the Department of Medical Humanities, a department of his dreaming which has so ably been brought to fruition and prominence by Dr. Nicole Michels. And he was a friend – I have a picture of him in my office, and I would wager that at least five other faculty members here have photos of him in their offices or on their doors (hint: don’t take that bet).
The “old timers” at RVU will vividly remember having chats with Frank, his glasses perched on his forehead not high enough to be stable on his head, but certainly not low enough to actually help him see. Within a day or so, whatever the content of that conversation was, there would be a book on the faculty member’s desk, which crystalized exactly the point made, or advanced the idea discussed. He would sit in his office and play the guitar with beauty and expertise. He once decided to draw a portrait of each American president, and they looked like professional renderings (although he used to come to work and remark that “we’ve had some weird looking Presidents). He loved subversive podcasts and good paintings and strong margaritas and chain restaurants and figuring things out and new ideas and feminist poetry and learning theory.
Virtually every day, Frank would make me laugh and make me think. And not just me, but so many others in this community. As new classes matriculate and new students become part of our community, it saddens me that they will never meet Frank. So, next time you walk into the library, look at the plaque on your right or look at the letters on the wall above the doorway. Next time you have a few minutes, walk into the offices of any of the faculty or staff who have been here for a few years and ask them to tell you their favorite Dr. Ames story. You’ll love hearing the story, but likely not as much as they’ll love telling it.
- Dr. Brian Schwartz
The Frank Ritchel Ames Memorial Library: