Cover photo for Arthur Frakt's Obituary
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1939 Arthur 2018

Arthur Frakt

October 31, 1939 — February 3, 2018

On February 3rd Alta resident Arthur Frakt died peacefully at home.  He was 78 years old.

Arthur was born in Newark, New Jersey, to Sam and Clara Frakt on Halloween 1939.  Although the dates didn’t exactly match, he was fond of saying “the Nazis marched into Poland and I arrived in New Jersey.”  He grew up in Nutley, New Jersey, not far from the local tennis club where the “old guys” took him under their wings and taught him the sport which became his life-long passion.  Arthur attended nearby Rutgers University where he was a star student-athlete, competing both as a member of the varsity tennis team, and on Rutgers’ undefeated national champion G.E. College Bowl team.  A reporter later wrote about one of his appearances that he “stunned moderator, audience and teammates alike during the 1960-61 television season with his answer to the question ‘What famous English novel. . . ‘  Frakt buzzed in with "Tale of Two Cities."  Arthur just had a feeling that the question was 'What famous English novel begins with the words: 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times?' He was right.

After college, he decided to enlist to serve in Vietnam. On the way to the recruitment center he dropped by the law school to visit a friend.  He happened to ride up in the elevator with the Dean of the law school.  By the time they reached the Dean’s office, the Dean had talked Arthur out of war and into enrolling in Rutgers Law School.  (He took the LSAT after a few weeks in school).  After he graduated in 1965 he became Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights for the State of New Jersey.  His interest in civil rights and his membership in the American Civil Liberties Union were other life-long passions.  When New Jersey decided to start a second state law school in Camden, Arthur was recruited to join the faculty.  He later was promoted to Associate Dean.

As a young law professor, he was granted a sabbatical, which he spent in California.  There he met his wife, Janna Rankin.  A mutual friend arranged for the three of them to go to dinner where they had a spirited political discussion.  They continued the conversation the next day and kept it up for almost 50 years.

In 1982, Arthur was appointed Dean of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California, where he oversaw the school’s transformation from a regional law school to a highly respected national law school.  In 1992, Arthur was lured back to the East Coast to serve as Dean of the Law Center and Vice President of Widener University.  After a cancer diagnosis, Arthur and Janna retired to the Tetons as full-time residents in 1998 where he became the tennis coach for Jackson Hole High School.  After a couple of years of retirement, and with his cancer in remission, Arthur was back working full-time as a consultant founding a new law school at Drexel University in Philadelphia.  After the successful launch of Drexel, he was recruited to serve as a Special Assistant to the Dean at Western State University School of Law in Orange County, California.  In addition to being a highly skilled law school administrator, Arthur was a prodigious writer and scholar. Over the course of his professional career he wrote numerous books, chapters, and articles.  His focus areas included Constitutional law, civil rights, educational policy and reform, defamation and privacy law, workers compensation and ski area liability.

In 2009, he re-retired and focused on his life-long passion for tennis, with a healthy dose of kayaking and skiing on the side.  He served head tennis umpire for the Wyoming Tennis Association.  Arthur continued to compete in tennis at a high level well into his 70’s.  Some of his proudest moments were competing and winning doubles tournaments with his son, David.

Arthur is survived by his wife Janna Rankin, his brother Steven Frakt, his two sons, Alex and David, his four grandchildren, Max, Danny, Quinn and Roxi, and his two dogs, Cooper and Aria.  Arthur will be remembered for his great humanity, wit, compassion for others, and his unbending integrity in all matters.

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