Dean of Students, Cluster Dean, Coach, Math Instructor Frank Eccles ’43 Dies

A long time member of the Andover community, Frank “Skip” Eccles ’43 passed away last Tuesday. Following Mr. Eccles’ death, Massachusetts Senator Sue Tucker motioned to adjourn in his memory. Along with his many contributions to the Academy, Mr. Eccles had volunteered at Senator Tucker’s office to work on issues involving children and education. Mr. Eccles was known as “the conscience of the academy,” according to the Andover Gazette. One of his former colleagues Instructor in Math David Penner said, “[He was] in a very, very quiet way, an activist for equal opportunity all [of] his life.” Throughout his PA career, Mr. Eccles worked as a house counselor in Pease House, the Dean of Studies, and a Cluster Dean of West Quad South. Mr. Penner noted that Mr. Eccles was one of the few students to follow through on their proposal to return to Andover someday as a teacher. In addition to these time-consuming roles, Mr. Eccles wrote three math textbooks and coached Varsity Lacrosse for 22 years. Mr. Penner said, “ He never lost a game to Exeter.” Mr. Eccles also helped found both MS² and the Andover Dartmouth Teachers Institute. MS² is summer program established to provide more challenging math and science programs for talented minority students. Though no longer in existence, the Andover Dartmouth Teachers Institute (ADI) allowed MS² to continue at the students’ schools. ADI worked with teachers from the schools of MS² students, to insure that the teachers could fulfill the students’ new excitement about math and sciences. When the program began, ADI Instructor and Instructor in Math Bill Scott estimated four PA teachers were involved in the program. According to him, about 30 teachers eventually participated in it. Mr. Penner, also once a part of ADI, said, “[Mr. Eccles] made it clear that really [the Andover teachers and the inner city teachers] were all colleagues in the same field…he reinforced a collegial atmosphere so we were on equal footing.” Instructor in Math Andrew Cline said, “[His legacy] is that commitment to youth from every quarter, which is a flame that we make sure is still burning.” Mr. Eccles graduated from Princeton Phi Beta Kappa and was an All-American lacrosse player. He first pursued a career as an engineer at General Electrics in upstate New York, switching paths seven years later to teach math at PA. After his retirement from PA, Mr. Eccles was elected to the town of Andover’s School Committee, where he served from 1996 to 2002. About Mr. Eccles’ position on the Committee, Mr. Cline said “[that it] showed the respect the people of the community had for him as an educator.” According to the Andover Townsman, former chairwoman of the School Committee Tina Girdwood said, “He was at times quiet but always thoughtful and witty, and he was an intellect. He seemed to grow more passionate about various causes with each passing year. The town of Andover’s school system is better because Skip served those six years.” After his retirement, Mr. Eccles volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence. He also volunteered as a math teacher at the Family Development Charter School. Mr. Scott said, “[Mr. Eccles was] quietly and strongly opinionated and passionate.” In his eulogy at Eccles’ memorial service, Reverend Gill of the Andover Christ Church said, “There is no obvious reason, for example, why someone like Skip, a man of privilege, impeccable credentials and academic distinction, a busy scholar and teacher, coach, family man, would have to be terribly concerned about underprivileged kids in Roxbury or Lawrence – but he was.” He continued, “Skip walked through life with a deep recognition of the sacredness of life and of all creation, and with enough humility not to want to do violence to it.”