In memoriam: Dolores Warwick Frese, professor emeritus of English

Author: Dennis Brown

Candles in the Grotto

Dolores Warwick Frese, professor emeritus of English at the University of Notre Dame, died Thursday (May 30) in South Bend. She was 88.

Valerie Sayers, a Notre Dame professor emeritus of English, said of her colleague: “A creative, meticulous medievalist as well as a gifted poet and fiction writer, Dolores Frese was a model woman of letters: She contained multitudes. She was also a beloved legend, especially among the women faculty she championed, and a generous mentor who gave unstintingly of her time, experience and wit.”

Born and raised in Baltimore, Frese earned her bachelor’s degree from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. She and her husband, Jerry, entered the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1958, both receiving doctoral degrees in English.

Frese was among the first women appointed to the Notre Dame faculty, joining the Department of English in 1973. During her four decades at the University, she became regarded as a leading scholar of medieval English, with a focus on Chaucer. She was the author of two novels and published numerous short stories, volumes of poetry and scholarly articles. She also earned a master’s degree in theology from Notre Dame.

Upon Frese’s retirement in 2014, Notre Dame’s English department, Medieval Institute and Center for Italian Studies hosted a program in celebration of her “long and distinguished career.”

Frese is survived by her husband of 65 years, Judge Jerome “Jerry” Frese, three sons and their spouses, a sister, brother, in-laws and numerous nieces and nephews.

A visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday (June 5) at Kaniewski Funeral Home, 3545 N. Bendix Drive in South Bend, and a Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 2:30 p.m. Thursday (June 6) at Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart.