One hundred family members, friends, colleagues, and students gathered yesterday afternoon at the University Lutheran Church, 66 Winthrop St., to mourn Walter F. Frese, who was Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Accounting, Emeritus at the Business School.
Frese, who served actively on the Business School faculty from 1956 to 1972, died in Cambridge Wednesday after a long struggle with disease. He was 81 years old.
During his time at Harvard, Frese held several newly created posts. In 1968 he became the first Lovett-Learned Professor of Business Administration. Two years later, he filled the Business School's first endowed accounting chair when he was named Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Accounting in 1970.
In 1983 Frese won the Business School's Distinguished Service Award, which praised him as a "beloved teacher, practitioner, [and] administrator."
Reverend H. Frederick Reisz, Jr. eulogized Frese at the service, saying, "his genius was in his teaching, his humanity [and] his influence."
Prior to his time at Harvard, Frese had served in the U.S. Treasury Department and General Accounting Office. He was also former president of the Association of Government Accountants.
As head of the federal Joint Accounting Improvement Program from 1947 to 1956, Frese oversaw widespread reforms of federal financial practices, according to Saturday's Boston Globe.
Frese was born in Denison, Iowa and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in economics from the University of Iowa in 1928. He then earned a master's degree in accounting from the University of Illinois and went on to become a Certified Public Accountant in 1930.
After completing his education, Frese taught accounting for five years at the University of Illinois while pursuing his own private accounting practice in the area. During World War II, Frese served in the military, was captured and spent time in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, Reisz said.
Frese is survived by his wife, Mildred, his son, Wayne F. Frese, two daughters, Mary Ann Witt and Martha Mills and five grandchildren. He was buried on Friday.