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Herbert Martin Fried

September 22, 1929 — November 18, 2023

Herbert Martin Fried

Herbert Martin Fried, Professor Emeritus of Physics at Brown University, passed away Saturday, November 18, 2023. He was 94.

He was born in 1929 in the Bronx, New York, to Julius Fried and Stella Mandel. When he was twenty-two months, his father died suddenly, and he was raised by his mother and grandmother, and later by his stepfather, Morris Bienstock. He graduated from Brooklyn College at age 20 and was to be UCONN’s first awarded Ph.D. in physics when his studies were interrupted by the Korean War. Following two years in the army, he completed his graduate studies in physics at Stanford University, earning a Ph.D. in 1957.

He spent a postdoctoral year at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, three years teaching physics at UCLA, a year as a visiting member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and two years as visiting physicist at the Courant Institute at NYU. In 1964, he joined the physics faculty at Brown University. Despite retiring 1997, he continued to teach, advise graduate students, and perform research for years afterwards.

A specialist in functional methods developed by Schwinger and others, he authored four books and some hundred and forty scientific papers. He knew personally many twentieth century physics luminaries including Robert Oppenheimer, Freeman Dyson, and, especially, Julian Schwinger. He lectured and performed research in university departments and institutes throughout the world, principally in Paris, Marseille, and Nice, and for many years was Director of the Workshops on Non-Perturbative Quantum Chromodynamics at the American University of Paris and La Citadelle of Villefranche-sur-mer. He continued active research throughout his life, completing his fourth book in 2014 at age 84, and publishing scientific papers well into his 90s.

A passionate Francophile, he spent many sabbatical years living in Paris, Nice, and  Villefranche-sur-mer with his family. He was active in Brown’s study abroad program at the American University of Paris (and later a board member there) and was a tireless advocate of foreign language study as a means of expanding horizons. Among his closest collaborators were French physicists Yves Gabellini and Thierry Grandou.

He was a self-taught painter of numerous portraits and landscapes, including a portrait of Bobby Kennedy after the latter’s assassination. A sunrise he painted in Kyoto was displayed at the Kyoto Institute of Theoretical Physics. He was also a voracious reader, from Dick Francis mysteries and LeCarré spy novels to works by Bulgakov, Dumas, and Bolitho. He could give long recitations, from memory, of poems by Robert Service and Lewis Carroll, and was always more than willing to give an audience an entertaining performance.

For more than thirty years, he and his wife Nancy were active members of the First Unitarian Church in Providence. He was well-known and well-liked in the community and acknowledged as dishwasher extraordinaire at church potlucks. He and Nancy were also regular attendees of the Institute for Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS) on Star Island, and his comedy routine impersonating the fictional Josiah S. Carberry of Brown University urban legend was a staple of the week. He is survived by his wife Nancy, sister Judy, children Jonathan, William, and Stephanie, daughter-in-law Ana, and grandchildren Michelle and Cecilia. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 AM  on Saturday, January 20, 2024, at the First Unitarian Church in Providence, 1 Benevolent Street, Providence, RI 02906.

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