Frank Child

Retired biology professor Frank M. Child III of Woods Hole died January 18 at Falmouth Hospital. He was 88.

The son of Frank M. and Florence Child, he graduated from Amherst College, magna cum laude, in 1953 and received his PhD in biology from the University of California–Berkeley in 1957.

He was the husband of Julia Swope Child, to whom he was married for 59 years. They met at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole in 1958 and spent every summer thereafter in Woods Hole, many at the MBL.

His research specialty was cell biology and the physiology of cilia and flagella.

Dr. Child had a long career teaching biology at the University of Chicago and Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

He was a lecturer in zoology during the summer of 1957 at the University of California at Berkeley and was an instructor and then assistant professor of zoology at the University of Chicago. He joined the Trinity faculty in 1965 as an associate professor of biology, then was named chairman of the biology department in 1974.

During his years in Connecticut, Dr. Child advocated for wetland conservation with the Great Meadows Trust, for which he served as president.

In 1995, the Childs moved from Wethersfield, Connecticut, to settle permanently at their home in Woods Hole for their retirement. Here he rekindled his college passion for acting by joining the Woods Hole Theater Company. An August 2001 article in the Enterprise reviewed his portrayal of Gonzalo, an honest old councilor, in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” as “played with panache” and the 2004 review for the WHTC production of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” reported that “Frank Child is fine as the mild Major Metcalf.”

He was active with The Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands and served as its president in the 1990s.

Among his other activities highlighted in the pages of the Enterprise from 1985 through 2002 were a talk he gave on “Safari and Other Kenya Travels” to Woods Hole Woman’s Club; a ship in a bottle he crafted that was part of an exhibit at Plymouth Savings Bank; and a program for Falmouth Community Television he produced, “Tai-Chi Chinese New Year,” a performance by members of a local tai chi group.

During their retirement years, he and his wife traveled extensively and played bridge.

In addition to his wife, he leaves their three children, Malcolm S. Child of East Falmouth, Alice H. Child of Falmouth, and Rachel Abbott of Lansing, New York; five grandchildren; and other family.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Barbara Auletta.

A celebration of his life will be Saturday, February 15, from 5 to 7 PM at the MBL Swope Center, Meigs room, in Woods Hole.

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