The passing of Frank (who in the last few years always said "so far so good" when asked how he was doing) made me think of what law schools are becoming without the likes of Frank. Frank was the purest intellectual I have known. I am not sure he wrote anything for publication but Frank was the type of guy who you could drop off at a library at 8 in the morning and pick up at 8 at night and (as long as he got lunch) there would be no complaints. Frank lived in the world of history, languages, and ideas. I am confident he never looked at an article to see if he was cited, bargained up a law review article, counted downloads, networked, or self-promoted. All of that would have gotten in the way of his intellectual curiosity.
On the other hand, Frank could talk knowledgeably about just about anything. You could mention a current topic and he might pipe up with, "Yes, well Napoleon tried that." As recently as a little over a year ago I could hear him with his Russian tutor. He had no plans to go to Russia as far as I know but probably wanted to read some things in the original language. A year before that we were chatting about a social/legal issue that had arisen in France. He said. "Yes, I wrote a poem about that last week." I asked to see it. The next day he produced a crumpled piece of notebook paper with the poem -- in French.
Frank's background was a mystery to me. Rumors are that he had a prior life in the CIA or one of its predecessors. I imagined him as George Smiley. I wondered what he was doing in China and Japan at critical times and mostly what he was doing in Madagascar. This was only revealed when he saw and old Zenith Transatlantic short wave radio in my office and mentioned that was like the one he used in Madagascar.
I have written before that some of the smartest, best educated, and helpful people on faculties I have been on do not write, send out reprints, fly to this conference or that, or do any of the other things that are expected of modern law professors. They are dying off, though, as fast as WW II veterans. I am not sure a law school betters itself by replacing them with someone who has excelled at the law professor's version of grade grubbing -- stacking up lines on a resume. In fact, I think law schools are poorer as a result of the passing of people like Frank.