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April 6, 2005

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Statement from President David Skorton regarding the death of Frank Conroy, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop

It has been a distinct honor to know Frank Conroy as a friend, a colleague and a mentor. His death saddens our entire University community, but it also leads us to celebrate a life and a career whose influence was broad, deep and long, touching the worlds of literature, teaching and learning, and music.

On behalf of the University community, I extend our sympathy to Frank’s wife, Maggie, and his entire family. The greatest loss is theirs, but I know they are also comforted by the joy of having had this incredible man at the center of their lives for so long. I am so grateful that they were gracious enough to allow me to share some of their final moments with Frank. It’s a memory that will stay with me always.

Besides Maggie and his immediate family, Frank leaves behind a greater family of readers that he touched through his own writing and through the writings of the students of his beloved Iowa Writers’ Workshop. It’s a family that encompasses the entire literary world and beyond.

In my mind, I’ll always picture Frank at a keyboard -- either a typewriter or a piano. He was a wonderful writer who was also an unselfish mentor to some of this country’s best writers. But his love of jazz was just as strong as his love of writing and writers. He got such a great kick out of winning a Grammy award for the liner notes that he wrote for a Frank Sinatra album. That’s what shouldn’t be lost as we remember Frank Conroy. He was just a lot of fun to be around.

STORY SOURCE: University Relations, 101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1000.

MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Parrott,, phone 319-335-0552, cell 319-530-6972