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Fred W. Roper

May 15th, 1938 - April 30th, 2024

Fred W. Roper, 85, died on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. He was the son of the late Mrs. Mary Alice Jones and Mr. U. G. Roper. Fred was a nationally recognized scholar and educator in the field of Medical Librarianship. Fred earned his Master's of Science in Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1962. He completed an internship at UCLA before accepting a position in the Biomedical Library there. He completed his PhD in Library Science at Indiana University in 1971. Fred taught for fifteen years at UNC as Associate Professor and Associate Dean. In 1986, he accepted the position of Dean and Professor in the College of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. As Dean, he introduced the full MLIS program through distance education in South Carolina and to cohorts of students in Georgia, West Virginia and Maine. He integrated computer technology into the curriculum and forged strong ties with the public and academic library communities. Fred joined the Medical Library Association in 1962. For the next fifty years he served in many leadership roles, receiving countless awards and citations. He co-authored the seminal textbook on medical library information resources. Fred followed UNC Men’s Basketball with a seriousness unparalleled in sports. He loved cats and babies, his sunroom full of plants, and his trips to England. He baked prize winning pound cakes, and he amassed an enviable collection of pottery and royal memorabilia. He was best known for his kindness, his devotion to his friends and family, and his generosity. Fred is survived by his spouse, Jon Upson; brother-in-law, Jeff Upson; sister-in-law, Heidi Langston (Jim); nephew, Kai Langston; niece, Kayla Langston, and a host of cousins and friends. A Celebration of Life service for Dr. Fred Roper will be held at 2:00 PM, Saturday, May 18, 2024, at the Chapel of Thompson Funeral Home at Greenlawn Memorial Park, 845 Leesburg Road, Columbia, SC 29209. A reception and visitation will follow the service in the Thompson Funeral Home (Greenlawn) Community Room. Woodridge Funeral Home of Lexington is assisting his family. Fred’s service will be live-streamed for those unable to attend the service. Please follow this link to view his service on or after May 18, 2024. The link will be active until August 18, 2024. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Fred W. Roper Silver Anniversary Scholarship Fund (1B1972). Checks should be made payable to the USC Educational Foundation,1028 Barnwell Street, Columbia, SC 29208. Please include a note indicating the full name and number of the scholarship, or the Mary Alice and George Jones Fund at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (295921), checks should be made payable to the UNC Chapel Hill Foundation, 216 Lenoir Drive CB #3360, 100 Manning Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599.

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Tributes

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David Bender

Met Fred in 1979, he was a board member of the Special Libraries Association and I was the final candidate for the Executive Director position. Fred became an instant friend and together we shared many productive times both within the profession as well as building a strong and lasting friendship. Fred is a true treasure in all the lives he touched.

Published June 10th, 2024
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Stephanie Kretz

Fred was my friend and advisor. Advisor and friend. I am deeply thankful for the years we shared. Rest well, my friend. I am still learning from you. Stephanie Kretz

Published June 10th, 2024
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Jon Andrew Upson

What can I tell you about this man I love. What can I tell you about this man I love. His name is Fred Wilburn Roper. He was born May 15,1938 in Hendersonville NC. His mother was Mary Alice Jones. His father was UG Roper. He was devoted to his family biological and extended. He grew up in Hendersonville NC with 3 cousins that were like 3 sisters he never had Carrie, Elizabeth and Frances Barton. A childhood friend he met in third grade that lasted 70+ years was Mary Ann Brown. They studied together, traveled and enjoyed UNC Basketball and Theater together they were loyal royalists. Following the activities of the royal family. He has two dear friends Gayle Douglas Johnson and Nonie Price that were called Mrs. Roper from time to time due to standing in to take him to medical appointments. Dick Hubbard who would sit and watch or listen on the wireless to the UNC basketball and football for many years with highs and lows of the season. Many other friends who he would sit on the phone and talk with daily or meet up for a meal. Being an educator, administrator, Librarian, mostly a friend that you could talk to. He would listen and give advice, but not be giving advise unless requested. He loved his schools Hendersonville High School, University of North Carolina and the University of South Carolina Library school University of Indiana. With the schools came many friends form the schools and associations. Medical Libraries associations, Special Libraries Association, American Libraries Association. South Carolina school Liberians and the list goes on. Many, many branches of friends and colleges', students over the years. Later in life. when he was diagnosed with IPF. He thought it would stop his traveling and other activities. Baking, Reading, helping others and schools. He would help a friend with plant shows at the SC farmer's market. He was devoted to Trustus Theater serving on the board for many years during the lean and fat times with Kay and Jim Thigpen. They said you have three years to live due to your Idiopathic Fibrosis. Well, he proved them wrong. He did it his way and he did eight more years. One of his favorites songs was Frank Sinatra’s I DID IT MY WAY and he did. He did continue to bake and win many ribbons at the SC State Fair. We had our regular Wednesday lunch group called the old daddies. With travel we didn't fly but we did drive. We would pack up everything we needed medical equipment wise and load and head out. That was much easier on him. He could save up his energy while in the passenger seat. And fully enjoy his friends, family, or whatever was in front of him. The most recent road trip took him west to Arizona to visit friends from his California days, and eastern Iowa to visit cousins on my side of the family. Illinois to visit friends Judy and Darrell and do some junking and exploring. Sit on the back porch and watch the sunset after a great meal. Visiting our family in Lawrenceville Georgia, Mobile Alabama. And several times a month to North Carolina to visit family and friends. Watching and loving our nephew Kai and Niece Kayla grow up and that he treasured the most. I really miss our Fred. I will miss telling him I loved him at bedtime and waking him up in the morning and telling him the same again and again with the Tabitha cat in attendance. I will miss seeing him working on a cake or multiple cakes at one time. We have his recipe for a poundcake he made. It is on the laminated marker. It was made and modified so many times over the years. Today we have collected most of his cake pans. He would see a pan new or old and give it a try. And then put it away for safe keeping. They are in the reception area. Please take one or two home with you. Make a pound cake in Fred's memory. Thank you, Fred, for sharing your life, love and pound cakes with all of us. I love you.

Published June 10th, 2024
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Jon upson

Published June 10th, 2024
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Susan Sylvester

What started out as my helping Fred find photos for a lecture he gave at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at UNC-Chapel Hill, turned into an unexpected friendship. Later, we enjoyed many hours going through old photos from SILS, trying to identify people and events. It never ceased to amaze me how more than 40 years later he could identify someone from the back of their head or just their eyes. During these sessions, we discovered a shared love of stress baking, British television and SILS. The only thing we seemed to not share a passion for was UNC basketball! Fred's love of the Tar Heels was unparalleled. Fred was a compassionate, gracious, exceptional person who never seemed to meet a stranger. I will miss our conversations, as they always made the day brighter.

Published June 10th, 2024
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Brian Sturm

I am deeply saddened by the loss of Fred from our library and university communities. He was an incredible mentor to faculty and students alike, and his gentle presence and amazing smile lit up the room whenever he was around. His contributions to librarianship - medical librarianship in particular - are legendary. I will miss his wit, his wisdom, and his abiding love and support for the UNC School of Information and Library Science. The world has lost a truly beautiful person!

Published June 10th, 2024
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Phyllis Mirsky

I first met Fred almost 50 years ago at the UCLA Biomedical Library. We have been friends and colleagues ever since. I will miss his gentle nature and kind heart.

Published June 10th, 2024
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