Robert “Bob” Frei, former president of Emil Frei & Associates, passed away on Wednesday. He left an indelible mark on the studio and will be greatly missed by his surviving family and everyone fortunate enough to have known and worked with him. Below is his obituary as it will appear in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Robert Frei of Kirkwood, MO passed away on Wednesday January 20, succumbing to a long heart condition. Robert was born on May 22, 1925.
A noted artist and innovator, he successfully led one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious stained glass firms, Emil Frei and Associates, for almost 30 years. His works have graced more than three hundred churches and institutions across the nation and have been recognized by countless experts as a vital step forward in the craft. They drew largely from his child-like wonder of God’s creation and a love for all things simple, true, and good. In the St. Louis region, his work can be seen at places such as the New Cathedral Basilica, Resurrection Catholic Church, Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery Chapel, and the St. Louis Priory, amongst others.
His humility expressed itself in his legendary self-deprecating humor. When he wasn’t embellishing a story to a captive audience, he could be found getting his hands dirty in hard, earnest work or travelling the nation’s parks in a camper with his wife and family.
Amongst his many accomplishments was qualifying for the Olympics as a bicyclist when still a young man. Shortly thereafter, he was drafted into the army where, due to his pacifist convictions, he served in the art and medical department. Upon his discharge from the army, he returned to the Emil Frei Studio to help lead one of the greatest generation of artists in the nation’s history. His impact on the trade will continue to reverberate down the generations as he was instrumental in developing a method for faceted stained glass production that is still used industry wide today.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Frances Eckert Frei, his four sons, Stephen, Mark, Christopher, David, ten grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Visitation at Bopp Chapel in Kirkwood on Monday, January 25 from 4 to 9 p.m. A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, January 26 at 10 a.m. at St. Peter Catholic Church in Kirkwood, MO.