Joanne Schultz Frye
was born during World War II in South Bend, Indiana, to parents of Mennonite heritage. She took from her heritage a firm conviction that war is wrong. She also took a commitment to social justice.
As she grew up in the fifties and sixties, Joanne was drawn to the currents of social change and the rising anti-war fervor. But she struggled to find her own way to participate. She signed up for the Peace Corps but then backed off and chose instead to persist in graduate study. In 1974 she finished her PhD at Indiana University. Her dissertation on Virginia Woolf began a long passion for Woolf’s luminous language and probing life insights—her resistance to war, her explorations of interior life, and her critique of patriarchy.
Having married in 1968, Joanne gave birth to two daughters and shortly thereafter sought a divorce. As a single parent, with PhD in hand, she took a teaching job at the College of Wooster, where she taught courses in literature and writing and eventually in Women’s Studies, a program she was instrumental in founding. Throughout her thirty-three years of teaching, students continued to engage her in new ways of thinking about life and literature, about feminism and social change.
Joanne always yearned for the ocean, but so far has remained in the landlocked Midwest. Since retiring from teaching in 2009, she continues to live in Wooster, Ohio, with her husband Ron, with whom she shares a tradition of “porch talk” and the joys of daily life. She frequently visits her two daughters and their families in New York City, walks at least three miles every day, and carries on with her lifelong devotion to reading and writing—still grounded in her love of language and her commitment to peace and social justice.