Dr. Allan MacLachlan Frew
Our centennial year is also the 100th anniversary of the birth of our second minister, Dr. Allan MacLachlan Frew. Dr. Frew was born in Glasgow, Scotland on April 28, 1907. At the age of six he moved with his family to the United States , and by the age of 12 he was working full time in a printing firm to help support his parents. Despite his limited means, he was intent on pursuing higher education. He graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina in 1930 and from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1935. He received an honorary doctorate from Wayesburg College in 1940.
Dr. Frew came to Ardmore prior to his ordination to serve as an assistant minister for youth, and was serving in this position in 1935 when our first pastor, Dr. Rawson, died unexpectedly. At the age of 28 Dr. Frew was called on to lead the congregation through their time of grief. He delivered a memorial sermon which was so well received it was recorded in full in the church’s official history. From this sermon we get a glimpse of the eloquent yet forceful style of preaching that would give Dr. Frew a reputation as one of the finest preachers on the Main Line. He was known as a biblical scholar, and it was said that his expositions of doctrinal topics “demanded attentive listening.”
The congregation was so impressed with the young preacher that they called him to become their second pastor, and he was ordained on May 16, 1935. He served as our pastor for 17 years, during which the congregation increased in size from 500 to 1500. In 1952 he left to become pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Detroit.
One of the enduring legacies of Dr. Frew’s ministry is his appreciation for the arts, instilled at an early age by his father, who was himself an artist. Dr. Frew suggested the thematic material of the many stained glass windows installed during his tenure. In music, Dr. Frew hired the prize pupil from the Curtis Institute of Music, Claribel Gegenheimer Thomson, who would serve as our organist and musical director for 50 years. Under Dr. Frew’s leadership the church secured a professional quartet, and instituted special services during which sacred works could be sung in their entirety. The first of these was the Mozart Requiem, presented in March, 1941.
When Dr. Frew arrived at Ardmore, he was a bachelor. Soon after he arrived he began a courtship with Carolyn Beyer, whose father and grandfather had served on the Board of Trustees. Their courtship was discrete. They used a special handshake after services to let each other know if they were free to meet. The congregation was surprised when their engagement was announced. They were married in 1937 when she was 21.
Dr. Frew passed away in 1988. Carolyn Frew currently resides in a retirement community in Georgia , near her son. In a recent conversation with her, Mrs. Frew said that Ardmore will always be her home and that her most precious memories are of her life spent here. She believes she has “lived a privileged life,” not in an overly material sense, but in her life with Alan Frew.