In memoriam: Fred Dollar

Dollar gave back a lot to innovation and the industry as a whole.

Back in July, at the Ted Minah Award dinner during the NACUFS conference in San Jose, I had the good fortune of sitting next to David Riddle, the director of dining services at Texas A&M University.

It was fortuitous for a couple of reasons. First, I got to hear about some interesting plans for the foodservice program at the institution. Second, we were able to talk about A&M’s dining icon, Fred Dollar. It seems that Fred was still a fixture in the A&M community and an occasional breakfast partner of Riddle’s, and it was nice to hear that he had remained a part of the university.

The memory of that conversation was stirred Monday morning, when I learned of the death last week of Col. Dollar at the age of 89.

Fred Dollar may have been an employee of A&M, but I got the impression he always viewed his job as his way of giving back to the campus that gave him his education. And he gave back a lot, if you measure his contributions in the form of innovation, not only to A&M but to the industry as a whole.

Among the items Fred—a founding member of the Society for the Advancement of Food Service Research—was credited with creating or helping to create: the “food court” concept of college foodservice, the flight-type of transporting trays from the dining hall to the dishroom, pre-cooked bacon and the technology for the impingement oven.

He was honored several times by the industry, including an IFMA Silver Plate Award in 1978, NACUFS’ Ted Minah Award for Distinguished Service in 1977, and NACUFS’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.

Fred graduated from A&M in 1944, and he spent 22 years in the military, with the U.S. Army’s Quartermasters Corps. When he retired from active duty in 1965, he returned to campus to be the foodservice director. I had a chance to tour the campus in the mid 1980s with Fred and Lloyd Smith, his assistant director, and I felt for myself the pride he had in that institution. I was fairly new to the foodservice industry, so it wasn’t until later in my career that I could fully appreciate the impact he had had on the industry during his career.

After his retirement, the university’s Board of Regents named him foodservice director emeritus, and he took his role seriously. Not only Dave Riddle but other directors, as well, such as Nadeem Siddiqui, now at Washington University, talked about Fred’s frequent visits to the campus and of their seeking him out for advice and counsel.

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