My best friend and co-author Norman Frohlich

Some testimonials of his other academic colleagues

Short Biography:
Norman Frohlich suffered a massive stroke on June 22, 2013.  He died peacefully surrounded by his loving family on Thursday, June 27.  Norman Frohlich was a man who cared deeply about people and ideas.  Norman is survived by his wife Roberta, three children: Kate (and partner Thomas Schlich), Daniel and Jonah (and wife Elizabeth Payne) and his four grandchildren: Lily, Oscar, Ezra and Odessa.

He was first and foremost a dedicated and loving husband and father, cook, and ultimately, a Barcelona Football fan. He was also an academic.

He  received his Bachelor`s degree in Mathematics from the University of Manitoba, his Master`s degree from Rutgers in Mathematics and his PhD from Princeton University in Political Science.  

He spent most his professional career as a professor: first at the Government Department at the University of Texas and later at the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba.  He was a valued researcher and dedicated teaching scholar in the areas of distributive justice and social welfare.  He was also on the board of the Manitoba Center for Health Policy.

Any one who would like to post a testimonial to him on this website, please email me your information, and I will post it.

His work on Human Subjects: After moving to Montreal, he became Chair of the Tri-Council Panel on Research Ethics.  Over a period of three years, Norm led the Panel through a complete re-conceptualization of the Policy on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. His rare combination of philosopher and pragmatist ensured that the final policy was truly responsive to the needs of both the research community and participants.

My friendship with Norm - It was a long one: 1968-2013 - greater than the life span of a pre-historic human cave-dweller, which we really are: cave dwellers.  Luckily, my cave was entwined with Norm's.  Little tunnels of connections.  Together, we convinced ourselves that we were seeking light that would indicate how to get out of the cave tunnels we found ourselves in.
    Our friendship started at a particular hour in an intellectually dark spot.  We were in the cave of a particularly silly Professor at Princeton.  He was advocating his theory of why political revolutions happened.  It was based on the totally forgettable notion of polarities.  He was jabbering on and said something like this:
    "Since some jabberwackies have tails, and all dog fish have to eat, it clearly follows that societies will have revolutions when the dogfish wag their tails."  
    Well, I had just gotten out of the military and was ignorant of jabberwackies, dog fish tails and many other things about these new species and even how they related to revolutions.  And I certainly had not understood his argument.  So when he asserted ‘it clearly follows,' I really didn't know how come it was supposed to be so clear.  
    Apologetically I had to admit, "I don't understand how or why ‘it clearly follows.' "
    "Obviously you are using ‘Aristotelian logic,' " said professor Silly.
    Well that put me back into my place in the darkness.  That is, until from the back of the Princetonian cave another person said, "What other sort of logic is there?"
    "Dialectical logic!" came the answer to Mr. Norman Frohlich's question from the Professor of fantastic ignorance.
    During the break I asked Norman what logic was.  He said I already knew logic.  That was surprising.  But he was going to loan me a book teaching me all about what he said I already knew.  That was amazing.  He was, starting then, one of the best teachers I ever knew.  And even more, thus began our friendship.  We spent the afternoon, evening and night in the library.  We searched everything to find out about dialectical logic.  Then we discovered there was nothing.  Professor Silly was just being ... silly.  
    That taught us so much about the caves we were often in.  People just didn't know how to look for the light.  And so they just pretended they could see it.  Like the emperor's clothing.  So many people were naked and yet spent time describing the fabulous cloth and weave of what they wearing!
    Norm thought of us as working in a cave, always looking for the way out.  He was sure that thinking was the best, most efficient search technique to find the light.  And maybe he was right because it helped us many times to find light when others only saw darkness.  This understanding let him become a great and generous scholar and teacher.  He loved helping others who really wanted to solve puzzles - or problems.  At conferences he would listen to papers and help other scholars.  He would often solve the central problems they were wrestling with, never asking for credit, just loving the pursuit of light, of knowledge, of possible truths.  But he never had patience with Professor Sillies.  If they wanted to wear no clothes and yet claim that they were gloriously dressed, he told anyone who asked, and often those who didn't, that those people were silly, or perhaps even quite bad.  
    And he was good at all this thinking and helping.  Very good.  Soon many other scholars sought his advice about problems in their research.  But finally, he retired, and came to the great city of Montreal.  There Roberta and he would live a joyful period with his daughter and her family.  And it was very real.  
Our style of working together.  Typically, we would be working on a problem and a day would be structured like this.  We'd get coffee.  Then I'd have to read the notes from the day before.  He would suggest an algebraic structure: say a trigonometric formula.  And I would protest.  I didn't want to work with such a formula.  We would argue back and forth.
    Then we would separate each to sketch our ‘argument' in some formal fashion.  He always used a fine black mechanical pencil – I recommend that these be used by his children till they fail – and I had a cheap scripto.  He would write on pages that had vertical and horizontal lines.  I would write on yellow pads.  Then he (always he was done first) would say ‘I've got it.'  A few minutes later I'd be done.  He'd insist on showing me with great certainty his argument on the board.  I'd point out the errors.  Then it would be my turn.  And he would point out the errors.  We'd discuss this for a few minutes and I (always my job) had to take notes to where our new starting point was and why.
    Then we would start anew but interrupt the recommencement with ‘just a minute.  I want to talk about ... (coffee, stocks, war, peace, Albanians, music, Nigerians, books, Americans, films, Canadians, coffee, tonight's dinner, yesterday's problems with the kids, etc.  These asides filled up 50-85% of our time.).  If there was a return to the board, we'd start back and perhaps I would suggest a new formula and he would protest. ...